Goodwill San Diego turns 90 on March 25, 2020

There is always a burst of energy when we start the new year at Goodwill San Diego. We are invigorated by the increase in donations from our generous donors. They provide the resources to fund our employment programs for people with the greatest barriers to employment. And, we are motivated to achieve the new goals and aspirations we have set for the year ahead. As I reflect on all the “Good” we will make happen in 2020, I am extremely grateful for the dreamers. The people like our founder, Reverend Edgar J. Helms, who saw a need and met the challenge through an entrepreneurial spirit and a social enterprise model that continues to thrive. His model is just as relevant today as it was 118 years ago. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of the day when we would live and prosper together based on the “content of our character,” which is a premise we aspire to here at Goodwill San Diego. As you move into the new year, I encourage you to remember the words of our founder: “the past is prologue, the future is in your hands”.

Together, we are Making Good Happen!

Toni Giffin

President and Chief Executive Officer

Core Values: Credibility • Creativity • Collaboration

Our History

On March 25, 1930, at the request of Goodwill Industries founder Reverend Edgar J. Helms, Myron Insko opened the doors to the first Goodwill store in San Diego. The property was located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego (16th and Imperial). In 1935, a building at 402 5th Avenue in Escondido was purchased for $15K and was the first branch outside of the City of San Diego.

Insko remained at the helm until 1959, when Eugene Morrill was selected to become the second President and CEO. He would remain in this position for 25 years. At the end of 1959, there were 223 employees and the net worth was approximately $320K.

In 1984, Michael S. Rowan moved to San Diego from Orange County Goodwill to lead the organization. During his tenure, Rowan took the organization from $1.6M in revenue to $57.3M in 2017. He also instilled in his employees the importance of a “clean and friendly” store. During his time at the helm, the 107K square foot building that remains the Goodwill Corporate Office, Training Classrooms, Community Employment Center and Retail Store in Point Loma, was purchased for $4.8M.

I am privileged to be Goodwill San Diego’s fourth leader. Two years in and one of my primary objectives has been to educate the community about Goodwill’s mission. I seek to collaborate with community leaders to increase our impact and serve those in need of our services. We are also strategically using online tools to relay a deeper understanding of Goodwill’s purpose and services available to all community members across the county. It is very rewarding to look back over the past 90 years and see all that has been accomplished!


Saving The Environment One Textile at a Time

As ambassadors of Goodwill San Diego, we are proud to be good stewards of our environment. We take donations of apparel and household goods that people no longer want or need and move them into the hands of those that want or need them. This gives the product a chance at a new life and keeps it out of our landfills. When the products life is over, we sell it to recyclers.

The future of the Goodwill network includes being able to take the vast volume of end of life textile product and turn it into new fabric. The Goodwill network is researching companies who are creating methods to do this very thing – they have the technology and we have the product! The next step is to create an economy of scale that will lower the cost and make it economically feasible.

In 2019 Total Environmental Impact for Goodwill San Diego:

  • Trees saved 1,249
  • Oil recycled 10,004 gallons
  • Water recycled 376,489 gallons

Materials Recycled:

  • Shoes 722,166 pounds
  • Books 363,957 pounds
  • Cardboard 467,589 pounds
  • Textiles 10,344,778 pounds
  • Electronics 1,619,573 pounds
  • Total net pounds 13,518,063
  • Materials diverted from the landfill 81% of donated items


Keeping Usable Products Out of Landfills

We have been serving the San Diego community as a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization for 90 years! Our used goods social enterprise is the primary source of funding for our mission of providing training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. With the profit we make at our retail stores, e-Commerce, and clearance centers, we can provide free training and employment services at our 5 Community Employment Centers and 31 Retail Stores.

It is the collaboration we have with our community members that fuels the pipeline of goods we sell. Our greatest profit comes from the donation of reusable clothing, household décor, and other items in good condition that are still desired and needed by other San Diego County residents.

In today’s competitive climate, I am extremely grateful when people make the choice to give their treasures to Goodwill. I know you have many options, and I appreciate your investment in strengthening our community through employment services and job opportunities. You are giving a hand up to those who need it most. Together, we are Making Good Happen!


Goodwill Industries of San Diego County’s mission is to provide employment and training opportunities to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment.