The Milwaukee Goodwill was incorporated in 1919, with headquarters located at the Summerfield Methodist Church on East Park Place. It was originally founded to “provide a chance, not charity,” to people society had labeled as unemployable, including thousands of soldiers returning from WWI. Goodwill created employment opportunities for veterans who had disabilities and also older workers who were displaced by returning, younger soldiers.
After the Great Depression and through the 1940s Goodwill began to focus on the growing number of persons with physical disabilities, developing the internationally acclaimed “case management” model that extended personalized service to program participants.
And, in the late 1950s, Goodwill collaborated with local agencies, expanding its services through Jewish Vocational Services and Curative Workshop, to provide on-site psychiatric, occupational and physical therapy services.
The notion of community-based services came to fruition in the 1980s and, since then Goodwill has exponentially expanded its services and locations including completion of several major building projects, opening a service center in Waukesha that houses both a retail and rehabilitation center, and Goodwill’s Store and Donation Centers have become mainstream retail outlets offering high-quality resale goods.
Today, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin is the largest of more than 165 Goodwill organizations in North America. Nearly 5,000 Goodwill employees work in 70 locations throughout 23 counties in Wisconsin and metropolitan Chicago. Its updated mission is to “provide training, employment and supportive services for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence.”
Over the years, Goodwill has become a leader in providing training, employment and supportive services for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence. As a nonprofit organization, Goodwill’s own initiatives, such as its retail and donation centers, have helped the organization remain self-sustaining.
Though the organization’s original intent was one of good will, today Goodwill has become the’ poster child’ for not only being a good neighbor in the community, but setting the standard for a well-run nonprofit organization that has evolved to meet and serve the needs of others in a visionary, flexible and professional manner in our community.
November 18, 2015 //
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