SOURCE: Goodwill Industries International

October 10, 2005 06:00 ET

Washington's New "Walk of Fame" Honors America's Social Pioneers

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 10, 2005 -- Edgar J. Helms, founder of Goodwill Industries, is the first honoree of a new monument -- a "walk of fame" -- that memorializes a number of America's private citizens who dedicated their lives to creating solutions to serious social problems. Former President George Bush will dedicate the Extra Mile - Points of Light Volunteer Pathway at a ceremony in Washington, DC, next Friday, October 14.

"The Extra Mile Pathway pays tribute to Americans who built their dreams into enduring movements that help people around the world," says George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Edgar J. Helms had a dream that the best way to help people in need was to provide them with 'a hand up, not a handout' -- that is, the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families. That dream became Goodwill Industries, which, since 1902, has helped more than seven million people gain the dignity of economic independence."

An initiative of the Points of Light Foundation, the monument takes the form of a series of bronze medallions laid into the sidewalks in an area near the White House. Together, they form a one-mile walking path, which is expected to attract more than 1.7 million visitors each year. Helms' medallion, the first to be designed and cast, was unveiled in February 2002.

The son of pioneer farmers, Edgar J. Helms was born near Malone, New York, on January 19, 1863, and grew up in Iowa. After completing his studies at Boston University Theological School, the Methodist church assigned him to Morgan Chapel, a mission in a struggling community of the South End of Boston. When an indigent group asked him for help getting food and clothes, Helms took a burlap bag and went to Boston's wealthy citizens. Instead of asking for money, he asked for whatever clothing they could spare. Helms hired people in need -- many of whom were considered unemployable -- to repair and sell the donated goods, and the original concept for the Goodwill store was born.

"From that first effort to provide people with the means to earn a paycheck, Goodwill Industries has evolved into one of the world's largest nonprofit providers of job training and career services," says Kessinger. "Edgar Helms' vision of giving individuals the opportunity to support themselves and their families is brought to life every day through our 100,000 employees and the hundreds of thousands of people we serve each year." Until his death in 1942, Helms traveled extensively in the United States and abroad to establish Goodwill agencies.

Other Extra Mile honorees include Martin Luther King, Jr., Clara Barton, Cesar Chavez and Frederick Douglass, as well as the founders of organizations such as Easter Seals, Volunteers of America and Rotary International.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Christine Nyirjesy Bragale
    Goodwill Industries International
    Tel. (240) 333-5264