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Early Interest

According to historical records, 1925 was the first attempt to establish Goodwill Industries in El Paso. The site for this operation was to be the Lydia Patterson Institute on South Florence in Central El Paso. In 1925, the Lydia Patterson Institute was a Methodist high school for training young men to be Methodist ministers. In the Mitchell building of the Institute, a room was set aside for Goodwill operations. A sign was hung on the door and machinery is bought and installed. However, the machinery was eventually sold because there is no one with the expertise to get a Goodwill program up and running.

It would take another 11 years before another attempt to establish Goodwill Industries in El Paso would be made. In February of 1936, Reverend Harry Morris, a Methodist minister in El Paso, attempts to start a Goodwill program at his church. Reverend Morris is the minister of Orchard Park Church located at 4318 Alameda Ave. He thought a Goodwill Industries could help fifty thousand Mexicans in the city.

Rev. Morris sends a letter to Casey Jones, CEO of Denver Goodwill, asking if El Paso is in the Denver territory. Mr. Jones forwards the letter to Millard Heath, CEO of Dallas Goodwill and regional secretary for Goodwill. Mr. Heath replies with an offer to visit El Paso in the spring. However, Rev. Morris has been told by his District Superintendent, "Please go slow on the Goodwill. There are some tangles to be straightened out". Rev. Morris interprets this to mean he is not to be personally involved.

In December 1936, Casey Jones of Denver talks to Bishop Cushman, the Methodist bishop of Denver. He urges the bishop to write Dr. Helms, founder of Goodwill, about starting a program in El Paso. Bishop Cushman's letter states the need for Goodwill in El Paso and specifically at Orchard Park church. Mr. Heath and Dr. Helms contact Rev. Morris about a March visit to El Paso. Rev. Morris states, "If there is one place on the map where a Goodwill Industry is needed it is here".

Dr. Helms and Mr. Heath come to El Paso on March 11 and 12th 1937. They agreeGoodwill Industries will be a good fit with Orchard Park church. They would like to see the location of Goodwill near the church on Alameda. In June, Mr. Heath tells Rev. Morris they do not have a man or the funds to send to El Paso. The last correspondence to Mr. Heath, in June 1937, offers the help of Bishop Cushman to start Goodwill.

By May 1938, Francis Geyer, Methodist District Superintendent of El Paso, has inquired about Goodwill in El Paso. Mr. Heath's response is that there is still no man or funds to start a program. Reverend Walter Nash is offered the superintendency of Goodwill in El Paso. He turns it down citing his older age and his plans to retire at his current church. The last correspondence from Mr. Heath is June 24, 1938. He tells Dr. Geyer that funds are still not available for El Paso. He states it would take at least a thousand dollars for the first six months of operations.

It would be another nine years before the third and ultimately successful attempt would be made for Goodwill Industries. In November of 1947, Gerald Clore stopped in El Paso on his way to Albuquerque. Mr. Clore was the Volunteer Regional Leader of Region VII for Goodwill Industries of America. Mr. Clore talks to Mr. Byron Englund about civic leaders becoming acquainted with Goodwill Industries through a presentation to the Rotary club. Mr. Englund's club was resistant to being identified with charitable drives and no presentation was done.

In January 1948, Mr. Clore begins a correspondence with Judge Victor Gilbert about the possibility of Rio Vista county property being used for a socially valuable enterprise. Judge Gilbert, a Kiwanis member, invites Mr. Clore to speak to the Kiwanis club in March 1948. During the visit in March, Mr. Clore meets a number of civic leaders. They are:

Mr. Frank Klohs, Executive Director Community Chest

Victor Gilbert, County Judge

Dr. C. C. Homan, Dentist

Mrs. Alice Barry, Executive Director, Council of Social Agencies

Mr. James Abernathy, State Board for Vocational Education

Reverend N. B. Stump, Lydia Patterson Institute

On May 14, 1948, the Kiwanis club votes unanimously to make Goodwill Industries an official club project. The plan was to raise $7500 to $10,000 dollars and to involve other civic organizations and leaders to be on the Board of Directors. It was suggested that the President of the Kiwanis club should be the President of the Board of Directors.

The charter for Goodwill Industries of El Paso was filed with the Texas Secretary of State on November 26, 1948.