Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida celebrates 50 years of service

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida invites the community to help celebrate its Golden Anniversary, representing a half century of services to promote the independence and self-sufficiency of our neighbors, family members, friends and co-workers. In honor of this monumental milestone, the nonprofit has planned a year of remembrances, continued expansion of services and programs, special events and exclusive annual sponsorship packages that offer a host of promotional opportunities.
President and CEO Rick Evanchyk said, “Goodwill’s 50th anniversary is exciting, as it points to the sustainability and importance of Goodwill’s mission to provide services for people with disabilities and disadvantages. Reaching Goodwill’s 50th is a huge tribute to all past and present employees that have worked so hard to further the mission and increase services to the people served by Goodwill.”
Goodwill was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, to provide employment services to people with disabilities. By 1959, people with disabilities were employed at downtown Fort Myers’ own Goodwill store, operating under the auspices of Goodwill-Suncoast, headquartered in St. Petersburg. By 1966, several Southwest Florida businessmen, led by News-Press President and Publisher Chet Perry, rallied to the Goodwill cause, and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was incorporated.
Today, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. is one of 165 autonomous nonprofit Goodwill agencies across the United States and Canada. It employs more than 800 people in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties. In 2015, the charity helped a record-breaking 42,000 community members with disabilities and disadvantages – up from a yearly average of 40,000.
Fifty years later, Goodwill remains strongly committed to its mission of serving people with disabilities and disadvantages by providing life-changing opportunities to achieve independence. Through the Goodwill L.I.F.E. Academy, a school for students with developmental disabilities, Goodwill Job-Link, a program designed to help with employment services, and an array of other services, Goodwill strives to offer individuals a path to independence.
As part of the anniversary festivities, individuals and businesses can help maintain the momentum by becoming a 2016 50th Anniversary Annual Sponsor. Sponsors will receive year-round promotional opportunities on the nonprofit agency’s website and social media, press releases, promotional materials and at events. For information contact Madison Mitchell at or (239) 995.2106 ext. 2213.
Plan to attend the Golden Anniversary Gala, Fashion Through the Decades, on May 6. Also on May 21 is the annual Goodwill Golf Classic. The much-anticipated Festival of Trees happens in time for the December holidays, and raised more than $77,000 in 2015. Throughout the year, look for special Golden Anniversary Throwback Thursday memories and Fact Friday posts at
For 50 years, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida has been committed to helping the people of Southwest Florida become more independent and self-sufficient. It plans to continue that mission for many decades to come. To learn more about your local Goodwill agency, visit

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is committed to serving people with disabilities and disadvantages by offering life-changing opportunities to achieve independence. Goodwill is the leading nonprofit provider of job training programs in the United States and Canada.
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida’s programs and services include our Job-Link Centers, which provide career training, job placement, and family strengthening services; Youth Services, including High School/High-Tech, and the L.I.F.E. Academy Charter School for students with developmental disabilities; income-sensitive housing for senior citizens and people with disabilities; and the Goodwill SWFL MicroEnterprise Institute, and more.
This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.