About Goodwill

Goodwill Northern New England is a nonprofit that helps people achieve their life and work goals. This may include job training and career placements; health care supports that allow people to achieve their personal goals and providing jobs directly through our retail and cleaning enterprises. Our stores sell affordable goods donated by members of communities across our three states. In addition to providing flexible, stable jobs, our stores divert 50+ million pounds of donated goods from landfills annually.

Headquartered in Gorham, Maine, Goodwill NNE has a three state service area comprised of Maine, New Hampshire and nine northern counties in Vermont.

An autonomous 501(c)(3) organization, governed by a volunteer local board of directors with members from throughout our three state region of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Goodwill NNE is a member of Goodwill Industries International (GII), which is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. There are 165 community-based Goodwill organizations throughout the United States and Canada. Each Goodwill organization is independent and autonomous, managed by local staff and a local Board of Directors.


Goodwill Northern New England invests in people who need support to achieve their work and life goals.


Everyone can achieve and maintain personal stability with the help of Goodwill’s holistic approach to services and employment.


Goodwill will move 10,000 people into personal stability by 2027.

Goodwill’s Citizenship Behaviors

Goodwill employees are expected to uphold Goodwill’s Citizenship Behaviors. We all want a workplace where we belong and feel safe. Goodwill NNE’s Citizenship Behaviors are: Be kind, be open, listen to understand, offer praise, be consistent, be flexible, speak up, and own it.

Goodwill’s Founder: Edgar Helms

Edgar Helms, Goodwill Founder
Edgar Helms, Goodwill Founder

Dr. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, founded the international Goodwill Industries movement in 1902. As a settlement worker in Boston’s South End, Dr. Helms looked for a way to help new immigrants get on their feet.  Dr. Helms’ motto, “Not charity, but a chance” inspired thousands of people to be generous in a new way – by donating their clothing. Dr. Helms created a business model that created jobs through the collection, repair and sales of material donated by the public.

A Timeline: Goodwill Northern New England

Closer to home, Goodwill was established in 1933 in Portland, Maine by Reverend Frederick Olsen. Today, Goodwill continues to help others overcome barriers in their lives to achieve social and economic independence.

1934: An agreement between Goodwill Industries of America and Portland Goodwill Industries made us one of the original twenty member agencies of Goodwill Industries International.

mid-1930s: First Goodwill stores in Maine are established in Portland and Biddeford

mid-1960s: An additional retail store is established in Lewiston

1969: Goodwill merges with Greater Portland ARC to help youth with disabilities find employment. Greater Portland ARC originally housed the Pride Training School, founded by Annie Pride in 1951. The Pride Training School was the first school in Maine to assist students with disabilities. Portland Goodwill Industries becomes known as Abilities and Goodwill, Inc.

1970s: Goodwill expands residential services and opens several residences to help individuals with disabilities and other barriers live independently as possible. Goodwill’s Carleton House becomes the first group home in Maine.

Goodwill continues retail expansion with stores opened in Bath and Brunswick.

1977: Abilities and Goodwill, Inc. becomes known as Goodwill of Maine, Inc. This name change reflected our ability to provide services statewide. 1977 also marked the closing of Pride Training School, as its mission had been fulfilled with the era of special education courses being offered through school systems in Maine.

1980s-1990s: The pace set during the previous decade foreshadowed the expansion of Goodwill of Maine during the eighties and nineties. A $1.2 million capital campaign was initiated from 1986-1987 to fund renovations at the Cumberland Avenue headquarters location. These renovations were completed in 1988.

The eighties also saw an expansion in residential services and employment services throughout the state of Maine.

1991: In response to community needs, Goodwill of Maine opens BaySide NeuroRehabilitation Services in Portland, a comprehensive, community based rehabilitation and therapeutic service for individuals with acquired brain injury.

1994: Goodwill Industries of Maine, Inc. officially changes its name to Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, reflecting potential growth in retail stores and programs in New Hampshire and Vermont. Goodwill stores in Maine and New Hampshire total 13 at this time.

1996: Goodwill opens WestSide NeuroRehabilitation Services in Lewiston, a companion program to BaySide.

1998: Goodwill merges with the Therapy and Leisure Center in Augusta to expand residential and community support services for individuals with disabilities and mental illness and deaf individuals.

2007: Goodwill opens its first retail store in Vermont (Williston)

2008: Goodwill relocates Biddeford store and opens a new store in Belfast, Maine. Expanded workforce development and job training programs throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

2009: Beginning in 2009, Goodwill receives federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to further expand job training and placement services, including developing a vocational mentoring program for youth and adults exiting the corrections system. As part of a national partnership, Goodwill NNE launches free computer recycling through Dell Reconnect. Goodwill opens new retail stores in South Burlington, Vermont and Ellsworth, Maine, and relocates stores in Rockland, Maine and in Hooksett, New Hampshire. Receives the Dirigo Award for Nonprofit Excellence from Maine Association of Nonprofits.

2010: Continues to access funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand services for people with barriers who need training and employment. Creates Public Policy leadership position to articulate Goodwill NNE’s voice in issues that affect stakeholders. Begins providing case management services for The MS Society in Maine. Goodwill opens its largest store to date, in the former Circuit City, near the Maine Mall in South Portland, Maine. Goodwill Industries International recognizes Goodwill Industries of Northern New England with an Advocacy Leader Award.

2011: Goodwill NNE relocates its Auburn, Maine store and opens a new retail store in Manchester, New Hampshire; relocates retail operations center from Diamond Street, Portland to Gorham Industrial Park in Gorham, Maine, utilizing a 106,000 square foot space for distribution and consolidation for recycling.

2012: Recommits to its longstanding commitment to holistic sustainability.  Three principles: impacting people’s ability to work; being prudent, yet generous and sustaining the earth are integrated into planning and implementation throughout the organization. Opens Neuropsychological Testing Services in Lewiston. Launches financial strengthening initiatives for employees. Opens first Buy-the-Pound Outlet within the new Gorham, Maine location. Goodwill relocates stores from Londonderry to Derry, New Hampshire and within Windham and Augusta, Maine.

2013: Expands LifeWorks services for adults with intellectual disabilities into Waterville, Maine. Expands workforce services and AmeriCorps in New Hampshire. Commissions the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont to conduct research to inform workforce services expansion and delivery in our region.  Refreshes Vision, Mission and Values statements. Begins internal review process to organize client services into Workforce Services, Healthcare Services and Good Clean Property Services. Develops capacity to build philanthropy’s role in the Agency’s funding mix to advance the implementation of our mission.

2014:  Sells Cumberland Avenue HQ building in Portland and relocates Administration, Advancement, Case Management and Neurorehabilitation Services to the third floor of 75 Washington Avenue in Portland, the former Nissen Bakery building. Safety, Facilities, IT, Finance and HR functions moves to existing facility in Gorham, ME. Develops two year incubation plan to support goal of being instrumental in moving 10,000 households in our region into stability. Relocates Falmouth, Maine store within same retail plaza. Relocates Dover, NH store to Somersworth. Opens new stores in Brunswick, Maine (Cooks Corner) and Hudson, NH. Opens first New Hampshire Buy-the-Pound Outlet in same Hudson complex as retail store.

2015: Formal Employee Sustainability Committee is established. Opens new store in Seabrook, NH and relocates Forest Avenue, Portland store to Westbrook. Creates first Job Connection team in Portland, with Portland Housing Authority and New Ventures Maine as referral partners. Relocates Workforce Services offices in Portland to more affordable and conducive space, within the same convenient neighborhood for job seekers. Develops a “Stability Calculator” to define personal stability and measure a person’s journey.

2016: Receives three-year CARF accreditation. Good Clean receives first Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) certification. Partners with Families in Transition (FIT) in Manchester, NH to bring Job Connection to the Granite State. Laconia, NH store relocates to Belmont. Workforce awarded contract for YouthBuild in Lewiston, ME and expands the Assistive Technology program. In partnership with Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., Workforce Solutions implements U.S. Department of Labor TechHire partner grant. Winner of Silver Collar Award as a workplace supporting senior employees. Winner of the Maine Development Foundation Champion Award for Economic Development.

2017: Goodwill-designed Job Connection model expands in Bangor and Augusta with Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Weather the WIOA funding challenges present in the State of Maine. In collaboration with multiples partners, complete second year of pilot for Gateway to Opportunity in greater Portland, serving 40 youth – doubling numbers of 2016 pilot. Closed Lewiston store; relocate Williston store. Develop and launch www.goodwillanytime.org

2018: The Goodwill-designed Job Connection model, which combines best practices of social work (a life navigator) with those of workforce development (a career advisor) is now operational in all three states, with hubs in Portland, Manchester and Rutland. A pilot program, located in central Maine, serving employees who enroll with a life navigator is successful and will expand as we serve a dual client base: community participants and enrolled employees. We remodeled the Concord store. Goodwill sold Ingraham House in Portland to Avesta Housing, an organization best suited to HUD property management – all while continuing to provide services to the residents who live in the group home portion of Ingraham House, assuring no disruption.

2019: Establishes “Employee Life Navigators” to support Goodwill employees on their path to stability. 

2020: Establishes “Partner Stability Fund” to support other local nonprofits, including homeless shelter and foodbanks, with Goodwill gift cards. Moves to a digital donation receipt for good donations. 

2021: Receive $10M gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Approved a 2-year Strategic Framework to navigate through COVID affects on Goodwill and our communities. Received 3-year CARF accreditation. 

2022: Formal DEI Committees (employee and Board) created. Goodwill invests $3 million into a long-term sustainability project in Goodwill warehouses, purchasing more durable materials that create less waste and increase organizational capacity. 

2023: Establishes sustainability goal to reach 0 waste. Launches Vocational Rehabilitation “Bootcamp” in Maine schools, supporting teens with disabilities prepare to join the workforce after high school. Changes Goodwill’s minimum wage to $15. Undergoes “Best Place To Work” survey and analysis. Disability Services comply with federal Home and Community Based Support regulations, further integrating people with disabilities into their communities and ensuring career discovery and opportunity are central. Goodwill expands Vocational Rehabilitation supports into southern Maine. Board of Directors and leaders rewrite Goodwill’s Strategic Framework to prioritize people, planet and financial health.

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