100th Anniversary for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota

For 100 years, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota has been a leader in employment services, meeting employer and community needs as they evolve over time and eliminating barriers to work and independence.

Browse our history by decade and learn about our organization's century of service in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.


  • The St. Paul Goodwill was founded by Rev. Herbert Burgstahler and local civic leaders. The original site was the Church of the Good Shepherd at 12th St. E and Cedar St. in St. Paul.
  • The organization followed the model of Goodwill Industries of America and accepted donations. Goodwill workers repaired donated merchandise and were paid by Goodwill store sale receipts.
  • During the Depression, Goodwill provided jobs and low-cost merchandise. Goodwill also ran a Community House for workers, a home for the elderly and a vocational training program for young people with physical disabilities.


  • During World War II, the federal government requested that Goodwill Industries support the rehabilitation of servicemen with disabilities, which resulted in new training programs and a vocational training center.
  • The prosperity of the postwar era brought financial stability. Building loans were paid off and stores were opened.

1960S & 70S

  • 1960s: Goodwill shifted its emphasis from assisting the aged and downtrodden to programs for people with disabilities. Funds were raised to build sheltered workshops and purchase furniture repair equipment.
  • 1970s: Goodwill's territory expanded to include Minneapolis. In 1977, Goodwill sought and received accreditation from CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), the national standard-setting and accrediting body.

1980S & 90S

  • 1984: Goodwill Industries and the Easter Seals Society merged in Minnesota, combining the best resources of both national organizations to offer job training, placement and other employment services. The organization was renamed Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota.
  • 1990s: Development of retail stores and service centers in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota soon followed. Appeals for donated items started to incorporate the benefits of recycling and GESMN'S contribution to reducing the community's carbon footprint..
  • 1990s: GESMN began serving individuals with economic and educational barriers to employment. Participants entered our industry-specific training programs in the automotive, banking, construction and retail industries.


  • Today, Goodwill-Easter Seals is a leader and policy influencer in workforce development and employment services for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment.
  • 50 store locations provide support for our mission and we divert over 60M pounds from landfills annually.
  • GESMN places four people into the workplace every day.
  • Goodwill-Easter Seals celebrates 100 years of service in 2019...stay tuned for details!
Photo of President & CEO Michael Wirth-Davis and Chairman of the Board Jerome Hamilton accepting an award from the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
GESMN Receives Celebrate Business Success Award

We are honored to be the recipients of the Celebrate Business Success award at the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce meeting. As a member of the Saint Paul business community for 100 years, we are passionate about serving the people of Minnesota and the East Metro. Our President & CEO Michael Wirth-Davis and Chairman of the Board Jerome Hamilton accepted the award in front of some of the state's most influential business leaders.

Photo of Chief Services and Programs Officer Sheila Olson accepting Midway Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Month award
Midway Chamber Award

GESMN was selected as the December Nonprofit of the Month by the Midway Chamber of Commerce. This award is recognition from our Chamber partners of Goodwill's accomplishments and impact in the Midway community.