Goodwill was formed by Rev. Edgar J. Helms in Boston in 1902. The turn of the 20th century was a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. These troubled times compounded the daily burden of poverty for immigrants, people with disabilities, and unskilled laborers.
Rev. Helms stepped in to help these struggling individuals by collecting donated goods from the wealthy areas of town and giving them away to the poor. As time went on, he noticed that he was seeing the same faces again and again. Rev. Helms realized that the traditional approach to charity was not breaking the cycle of poverty; it merely addressed the symptoms, not the underlying causes. Services were needed that would lead people out of poverty and into economic self-sufficiency.