In 1902 Edgar James Helms, a Boston minister, conceived the idea of collecting unwanted household goods and employing jobless men and women to repair and sell these donations. He hired people in need, many who were considered unemployable. Income from the resold goods paid the workers wages. The system was a success and the Goodwill stores, along with the method of “self-help” were born.
“A hand up, not a hand out”, was Reverend Helms’ motto. He pioneered an organization that gave people hope, dignity and independence by providing them with the means to earn a pay-cheque and support their families. Reverend Helms’ philosophy continues to flourish among more than 200 independent community-based Goodwill organizations in Canada, the U.S. and 22 other countries. Reverend Helms’ concept was visionary, for it is just as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago.
While for many years Goodwill focused on helping people with disabilities find employment, that mission has expanded over the recent years. Today Goodwill’s primary mission is to help individuals with barriers to employment become self-sufficient through training and employment services.
Goodwill Niagara began in 1994 as a branch operation of Amity Goodwill Industries Hamilton, with a small store employing five people. With support from donors, shoppers, volunteers and the community, the Niagara operation grew steadily and became an autonomous organization in 1994. That same year Goodwill Niagara opened a store in Niagara Falls and in 1998 a new location opened in Welland. The following year a forth store opened in the Glendale Plaza across from the Pen Centre in St. Catharines.
In August of 1999, Goodwill Niagara purchased the building belonging to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24, located at 111 Church Street in downtown St. Catharines. This building operated as a community based, accessible facility, which accommodated community agencies. This partnership and the sharing of resources enabled Normandy Resource Centre partners to generate increased savings, which can then be re-directed into the delivery of community services and programs. This valuable partnership also helped the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24 maintains its presence in our community.
The Normandy Resource Centre was sold in in July of 2016. Goodwill Niagara and the Rotary Club of St. Catharines relocated to 271 Ridley Road in St. Catharines. The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24 relocated to 15 George Street in St. Catharines, The District School Board of Niagara relocated their classroom facility is the Goodwill Community Building at 36 Page Street in St. Catharines.
In 2010, Goodwill Niagara successfully rehabilitated and re purposed the abandoned Stokes Seeds factory on Page Street. The renovation of the building not only provided hands on skilled training to some of our Constructing Our Future participants, it also created 32 affordable housing units for seniors in Niagara. In addition, the Stokes Community Building is a fully functioning banquet hall with low cost office space for community based not-for-profit organizations. Goodwill Niagara's Culinary Program is taught at this building. Our community partners DSBN and Autism Ontario currently have their offices with us at 36 Page in St. Catharines.
In 2012 Goodwill Niagara opened it's newest community building in Welland at 1 Churchill Avenue. A green field development that was remodeled after Stokes Community Building. The Churchill Avenue location features a Goodwill Niagara retail and donation centre as well as a community centre and 25 affordable housing units for low income seniors.
The following year Goodwill Niagara partnered with the Niagara Region to open an Attended Donation Centre at the Humberstone Landfill in Welland. The first of its kind in the Region, it allows residents a last chance to donate before going over the scales at Humberstone.
Goodwill Niagara opened up a retail and donation centre in Port Colborne in 2016. The community welcomed us with open arms and have support this new location in Niagara. In the winter of 2018, Goodwill Niagara relocated the Portage Road store in Niagara Falls to a much bigger home at 6777 Morrison Street.
Today Goodwill Niagara employs over 100 individuals and operates six retail stores across the Niagara Region, which also function as donation centres and training sites. There are Goodwill Niagara locations in:
495 Welland Avenue
228 Glendale Avenue
572 Niagara Street
1 Churchill Avenue
6777 Morrison Street
45-53 West Side Road
Goodwill Niagara's Head Office is located at 271 Ridley Road in St. Catharines.