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
Training Hours

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

$ 4812276
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

Deb LaMere

Senior Vice President - Administration, Compliance, WFD
and Business Services

Deb LaMere currently serves as Senior Vice President. She oversees Administration, Human Resources, Workforce Development and Business Services of Goodwill Industries of Northern WI and Upper Peninsula. Deb has over 20 years of human resource and business administration experience working in mining, manufacturing, healthcare and in Higher Education. She owns “HR Consulting” in which she has contracted and worked directly with numerous corporations, both large and small, analyzing and implementing 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. Deb serves on the Board of Upper Peninsula Human Resource Association and is on the Personnel Committee of UPAWS. Deb also teaches as an adjunct instructor in the College of Business at NMU.

Rebecca Fairchild

Director of Finance

Rebecca started as a part time billing clerk then quickly moved to oversee accounting. She temporarily managed Salvage and Logistics during her interim lead as Director of Donated Goods. A natural fit for this farm raised Northern Wisconsinite, her effort, eagerness, and motivation to succeed have given her a Hand Up to become Director of Finance for Goodwill Industries of Northern WI and Upper MI, Inc.

Wes Snedden

Donated Goods Regional Manager

Wes Snedden is Goodwill of Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan’s Donated Goods Regional Manager.  Wes started his career with Goodwill in 2014 as an Assistant Manager in Sarasota, Florida.  His career start, was in part, due to his mother being a retail store manager in Ohio, and the amazing stories he remembers her telling him about her rewarding role as a leader.  Like his mother, Wes wanted a fulfilling job where he could change the lives of the team he works with.  GWNWUP was the perfect fit; a small Goodwill organization who strives to make a big impact in the community.  After spending 7 years in Florida, Wes made the decision to move to the great Upper Peninsula where he could take advantage of the seasons and be more involved in outdoor activities.  Since moving to the Upper Peninsula, he has pursued his love of snowmobiles and side by sides.

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.