History | Goodwill Sacramento Valley & Northern Nevada


Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.

Dr. Helms’ vision set an early course for what today has become a $4 billion nonprofit organization. Helms described Goodwill Industries as an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

Times have changed, but Helms’ vision remains constant: “We have courage and are unafraid. With the prayerful cooperation of millions of our bag contributors and of our workers, we will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.”

Goodwill’s network of 165 independent, community-based Goodwills in the United States and Canada offers customized training and services for individuals who want to find a job, pursue a credential or degree, and strengthen their finances. Each local Goodwill must be accredited, apply for membership and meet certain criteria established by Goodwill Industries International (GII).

Learn more about Goodwill Industries International here. 

Goodwill Sacramento Valley & Northern Nevada belongs to this global network of 165 community-based autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with affiliates in 13 other countries. Each member Goodwill is an independent, incorporated 501(c)3 organization, governed by a local board of directors.

Goodwill was established in Sacramento in 1933 with its headquarters in the basement of the old Sixth Street (Methodist-Episcopal) church between K and L Streets.

Our territory covers 16 counties in Northern California and 13 in Northern Nevada.

While Goodwill historically provides vocational access to people with barriers to employment, our current mission is formally expanding to include broader self-sufficiency services in our assigned territory. Goodwill has partnered with several nonprofits in the area we serve: 

Next Move (formerly Sacramento Area Emergency Housing) and Goodwill announced a strategic alliance in August of 2014.

Next Move was in the midst of a large construction project of their completely rebuilt family shelter that would grow from 55 beds to 85 beds for families with children, and included additional sleeping rooms, a commercial kitchen, dining room, SETA Head Start space, and classrooms. They received tremendous support from partners like the North State Building Industry Association’s HomeAid Sacramento who contributed more than $500,000 of in-kind donations, USA Properties funded construction, Next Move raised $300,000 through fundraisers and private donations, and the State of California contributed $1 million through an Emergency Housing and Assistant Program grant. However even with these partners, the building project was stalled.

Goodwill became involved in the merger by initially contributing $1 million to complete construction and subsequently consolidating Next Move into Goodwill’s organizational infrastructure.

Community Link and Goodwill announced a strategic alliance in June of 2015.

In February of 2015, after nearly 76 proud years of service to our region, Community Link decided to find new partners for its three major programs—Collaborative Solutions, The Regional Center for Volunteerism and 2-1-1 Sacramento—and then cease operations. The organization issued a Request for Proposal to begin the search for new partners to whom they could transfer programs. Community Link’s leadership spent more than a year evaluating the situation and believed that Community Link itself had evolved to the point where its structure was unsustainable.

Goodwill had a unique vision for Community Link: retain the organization as a singular entity to ensure continued service to the community, rather than deconstruct and disperse programs. Goodwill valued the reputation of Community Link and intended to maintain and advance its significance and 76-year-old service history. As such, Goodwill deviated from the Request for Proposal process to present a holistic solution for Community Link. Goodwill’s approach was to maintain Community Link intact, entering into a parent-subsidy alliance which would ensure the structural integrity of the organization, retain the employees, and continue uninterrupted service to the community. Goodwill was uniquely positioned to accomplish a merger due to our capacity, infrastructure and prior integration experience with Next Move and People of Progress. 

Wind Youth Services and Goodwill announced a strategic alliance in May of 2016.

Wind Youth Service’s shelter temporarily closed in early February of 2016 due to a lack of operating funds necessary to keep the doors open. A few weeks later, Goodwill donated a seed gift of $10,000 to Wind Youth, allowing the facility to reopen in the short-term. Goodwill also issued a challenge to the community to raise $100,000 to keep Wind’s doors open all year as the only service provider in Sacramento County focusing solely on runaway, homeless and street youth and transition age youth.

Wind was funded through the end of the year, and a federal grant continued to help pay for two-thirds of the running cost, however the money for operating costs for the next year was still in question.

Due to the uncertainty of continued funding and the desire to preserve such vital youth services, Goodwill stepped in as a financially-solvent sponsor to stabilize Wind’s programming and join forces to help move more youth from homelessness and unemployment to stable housing, jobs and self-reliance.

Both organizations believe the real solution to helping people break the cycle of poverty and homelessness includes a comprehensive and coordinated approach that provides both short-term and long-term opportunities, incorporating wrap-around services including food, housing, employment opportunities, community referrals and other support.

For more information read the Sacramento Bee article here.

In 2018, Goodwill and its Family of Nonprofits provided over 942,113 services to more than 345,283 people.