Goodwill Celebrating 60 Years of Changing Lives in Middle, West Tennessee


Letter to the editor by:
Matthew Bourlakas,
President and CEO,
Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

On June 28, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee turns 60 years old. Our anniversary allows us the opportunity to reflect and celebrate our many achievements over the past 60 years.

Since 1957, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided employment and training opportunities for people who have disabilities and others who have trouble finding and keeping jobs, while at the same time reducing, reusing, and repurposing gently used clothing and household items.

From the inception of the Goodwill movement in 1902, our mission has always been to change lives through education, training, and employment. Much has changed at Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee since it was incorporated in 1957. We have grown from a single store in downtown Nashville to 36 stores — including the ones in Franklin, Brentwood and Spring Hill — across a territory covering 48 Tennessee counties. Where once we had just a few donation bins, we now offer 80 conveniently located Donation Express Centers. And where originally we were able to help just a few people with disabilities, now we annually assist thousands struggling with disabilities and other barriers to employment such as homelessness, a felony record or a lack of a high school diploma.

Throughout its history, Goodwill has found new and creative ways to serve its mission. In the early days, Goodwill operated a shop to repair donated bicycles. Later, Boy Scouts collected donations for Goodwill in an annual event known as “Good Turn for Goodwill Day.” In the 1980s, Goodwill even rolled out its own line of rebranded jeans called “Goodins” (Tennessee First Lady Honey Alexander modeled a pair for a newspaper photograph).

While we have an amazing history and record of accomplishment, we cannot be satisfied when there are so many people still in need of our services. The inspirational words of Goodwill’s founder, Edgar J. Helms, that a hand up is better than a handout, compel us to push forward until all people have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. With a job and paycheck come dignity, a sense of belonging and the hope for a brighter future.

Please join us in celebrating 60 years of generosity. Sixty years of empowerment. Sixty years of changing lives.

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