History of the Instituto de Buena Voluntad
The organization located in Montevideo, Uruguay, was founded in 1925 by Methodist pastor Earl Smith. Early Buena Voluntad leader Antonio Loureiro, was sent to Boston to learn the Goodwill model directly from the source while he prepared to return home and assist the new organization. After spending a year in training in Boston, he returned to Uruguay to help lead the new program.
Industrias de Buena Voluntad, like its American predecessors, collected used items and employed people in their community who were unemployed. They handed out bags for the locals to fill with clothing and other gently used items that were then fixed and sold to create jobs and support the organization.
The organization originally sold locally donated items in its store until a major crisis in Uruguay resulted in decreased donations; they began to receive containers from local Goodwills in the US to continue to support its work. With legal changes in the 1990s, the organization could no longer receive items from the United States and formally closed its store.
However, despite the store closing, the organization continued forward as the Instituto de Buena Voluntad with a focus on education and job placement for people with disabilities. The Instituto de Buena Voluntad is a program within the Methodist Church of Uruguay.
The Anniversary Celebration
The 90-year celebration was attended by national Methodist leaders and other community supporters with a photo tour of the organization’s history featuring newspaper articles, pictures and marketing materials.
Buena Voluntad Board President Sergio Araújo Gambaro expressed thanks for the past and hope for the future, noting “We bring hope to society, but we don’t forget our roots. We offer our community not a charity, but a chance.”
The Instituto is the oldest Goodwill organization outside of the United States and continues to carry forward the vision of Goodwill pioneers Earl Smith and Edgar Helms to give everyone in their community the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential through the power of work.