Goodwill marks 70th year in Houston

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KTRK is taking a look at Goodwill Houston's amazing 70-year journey in our special 'Bundles of Hope' (KTRK)

In 1945, a group of Houston businessmen spearheaded the formation of Goodwill Houston. And for 51 of those years the CEO has had the last name "Lufburrow."

First up is the dad, preacher Bill Lufburrow, who made Goodwill Houston a household name.

"He learned how to use the media in a way to benefit Goodwill industries," his son Steve Lufburrow said, "Dad decided, I'm going to go make friends with all the stations, and those days how it worked was you'd go to Channel 13 and you'd cut the spots."

"Goodwill Bill" was the "Mattress Mack" of public service announcements. He was famous for, and good at, attracting attention to Goodwill's mission, which at that time was primarily to provide jobs to the disabled.

But Bill Lufburrow had innovative ways on how to do that through training. He made-over their Jensen Drive headquarters where all of their donations came in, and turned it into a secretarial training school, automotive repair center, greenhouse, and even a shoe factory.

He also championed legal changes like the Americans with Disabilities Act long before that movement began popular, and had Goodwill Houston build housing for people with disabilities. Both ahead-of-their-time projects.

But then tragedy struck. Lufburrow died in 1986 at age 54. That prompted Goodwill Houston's board to make a bold move-naming son, Steve Lufburrow, just 27 at the time, to head the organization. Steve would face several challenges just one month in, a fire that gutted their building, then later flooding because of Tropical Storm Allison.

"We started realizing if we don't do something soon, Goodwill's going out of business," Lufburrow said.

Enter an angel donor with enough funding for Goodwill to stay afloat and begin to rebuild in a new decentralized business model. Now donation centers and stores would be joined, there would be job connection centers where job training and resume skills are offered.

Goodwill Houston is now debt free and our city's largest job training organization to anyone with a barrier to employment whether it's due to incarceration, age, education or emotional issues.

So the next time you make a donation at Goodwill consider this.

"Your old clothes change people's lives," said Tommy Moore. "A job is not just a paycheck, a job is hope. A job brings self-dignity and respect. A job strengthens families and that is what your old clothes do."

KTRK will have more on Goodwill Houston's amazing 70-year journey in our special "Bundles of Hope," which airs Saturday after our early newscast.
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