Today the club was joined by Youngstown Rotarian, Jim Freeze from the Youngstown Area Goodwill.

Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries began service to the community in 1893 as the Christ Mission Settlement on East Federal Street in downtown Youngstown. The Settlement was established in response to the specific needs of the population. Over the years, the specific programs and services offered by the organization have evolved as the needs of the community have changed, but the essence has remained the same.

Initially, a growing number of immigrants to the Youngstown area took advantage of a variety of organized programs, such as English language classes and housing. A public laundry was available for Settlement residents, children were educated and cared for, social activities were organized, residents were assisted in finding jobs, and some training was offered. Christ Mission served as the bridge by which these immigrants, mostly from Europe, assimilated into the community.

In addition to the tradition of community service, the present-day Goodwill Stores find their roots in the early activities of the Settlement as well. Established at the turn of the century as “Opportunity Stores,” these retail outlets were a perfect way to meet a variety of needs in one simple concept. Youngstown residents who could afford to do so donated clothing, furniture, and household items to Christ Mission. These goods were then offered for sale at greatly reduced prices, primarily for the benefit of those who could not afford new merchandise. The revenue generated in this fashion was used to fund the activities of the Settlement, and the stores provided employment and training. This basic concept has remained unchanged over the years, and continues to serve both the community and the organization well.

Just after the turn of the century, a series of epidemics resulted in a greater focus on children. In 1918, a deadly flu epidemic left many Youngstown children orphaned, and Christ Mission stepped in to care for them and to find them new homes. In the mid-1920’s, tuberculosis took its toll on the young. Again, Christ Mission rallied to meet the challenge. Children received treatments, were well cared for, and were carefully monitored.

It was during this period that the Settlement’s administrator, Rev. Hagstrom, met Dr. Helms, founder of Goodwill Industries and the Goodwill Rehabilitation Program for the Handicapped. The year 1925 saw the inception of Christ Mission Goodwill Industries, which was affiliated with the Settlement, but with independent operations and finances. By 1959, Goodwill Industries had evolved into a full-service Vocational Rehabilitation Center. The original Settlement activities had been serving a diminishing need in the community and were discontinued at that time. In 1975, the name was changed from Christ Mission Goodwill Rehabilitation Center to Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Today, Goodwill serves the needs of men and women with disabilities and other barriers by providing employment in the community through comprehensive programs and service. Anyone who would like to tour the main complex on Belmont Ave. may call (330)759-7921 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information about the Goodwill, visit: