Founder Edgar J. Helms
Founder Edgar J. Helms

The Goodwill Mission

Since October 1965, the mission of Goodwill Industries of Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan has been to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families, and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work.

The Goodwill History

Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.
Dr. Helms described Goodwill Industries as an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

Even with a laudable history and record of accomplishment, Goodwill won’t be satisfied when so many people still need our services. Through our 21st Century Initiative, we aim to improve the economic self-sufficiency of 20 million people and their families by 2020. Times have changed, but Helms’ vision remains constant. “We have courage and are unafraid. With the prayerful cooperation of millions of our bag contributors and of our workers, we will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.”

Goodwill works to be a leader and innovator of the "reduce, reuse, repurpose" program.

Our Environmental Impact

Donations Collected
Pounds Diverted from Landfills
Hours of Mission Services

For over 100 years, Goodwill has been an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer and social innovator of the “reduce, reuse, repurpose” practice.

We seek to maintain and enhance our position as the preeminent recyclers in the not-for-profit community by expanding our Green Initiative activities to include a commitment to retrofit and upgrade all facilities, maximizing energy efficiency and continuing towards our goal of zero waste.

Even unsold donations are recycled and utilized for other purposes as well as donated to other organizations for reuse. Through our current recycling efforts, we recycle 83% of what we collect – our ultimate goal is to recycle 100% and be at zero waste.

Goodwill's Healthy Youth Coalition Softball Team

Our Community Impact

Payroll Dollars Paid
Payroll Taxes Paid
Property Taxes Paid

The purpose of the organization was to help provide rehab services, training, employment and personal growth opportunities by selling articles reconditioned, assembled, or made by such persons.

We at Goodwill are constantly striving to help those around us feel empowered and confident in the work they do. Our main goal is to “empower through the power of work” by providing employment, a safe and fun place to work, education, job skill training, life skills, and so much more. We also want to make sure your donation and shopping experience is efficient, fun and satisfying. Our employees want to give our guests a great experience. Our stores are constantly being replenished with fresh inventory, so there’s always fun and new things to look at.


Jim Borowski

President and CEO

Jim is the President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of Upper Michigan and Northern UP.
His career has taken him to several businesses including Square D where he left as Vice President of Service Operations and Life Fitness where he started the Certified Pre Owned business unit and left as the General Manager and Global Director. Jim will be celebrating his 10th anniversary with Goodwill in July.

Jim has extensive experience in Finance, Service, Sales, Manufacturing Operations, Logistics and Supply Chain. He has been a start-up executive with Fortune 500 companies as well as small privately held companies. Jim has overseen multiple site operations including many international locations. He is Lean Six Sigma and Black Belt trained. He holds a BS in Accounting from Augustana College in Accounting and Finance

Steve Everson

Director of Industrial Services

Steve is currently the Director of Industrial Services at Goodwill of Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, overseeing our largest work center, which is located in Marinette, WI. This is one of the many hats that he has worn since starting at Goodwill in 2006. Prior to joining Goodwill, Steve worked for 10 years in manufacturing and production management, including several years in which he was on the other side of some of Goodwill’s Industrial contracts. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan Technological University and resides in Marinette with his wife and teenage son

Deb LaMere

VP of Administration, Compliance & Workforce Development

Deb LaMere currently serves as the VP of Administration, Compliance & Workforce Development of Goodwill Industries of Northern WI and Upper Peninsula. She oversees Human Resources, Administration and Workforce Development. Deb has over 20 years of extensive human resource experience working in mining, manufacturing, healthcare and Higher Education. She owns and runs “HR Consulting” company where she has contracted and worked directly with numerous corporations, both large and small, where she has analyzed and implemented effective full scale HR systems. Deb has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Engineering Administration from Michigan Technological University, has a Master’s degree in Public Administration – Personnel and Labor Relations from Northern Michigan University, is PHR and SHRM-CP certified and is the current President of the Upper Peninsula Human Resources Association.

Rebecca Fairchild

Director of Finance

A true Goodwill Story, Rebecca started as a part time billing clerk, moved through all aspects of accounting, then added Tech Support, and finally Salvage and Logistics to her resume until she became Director of Donated Goods. A natural fit for this farm raised Northern Wisconsinite, her hard work, enthusiasm, and motivation to succeed have given her a Hand Up to become Director of Donated Goods for Goodwill Industries of Northern WI and Upper MI, Inc. Rebecca has also been a licensed cosmetologist for 17 years.

Board of Directors

Meet the Goodwill Board of Directors:

Cindy Walker – President
Lisa Fernstrum – Vice President/Secretary
Sean Fernstrum – Treasurer
Charles Salewsky – General Member
Scott Wellens – General Member

What UP Goodwill Stores Look Like


We work with a variety of local businesses and organizations to create new projects and programs across the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin.