Goodwill Industries Remembers Legacy of John F. Kennedy

On the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s passing, Goodwill Industries® remembers the organization’s interactions with the president and his history of supporting opportunities for people with disabilities.

Goodwill Industries Gifts  Rocking Chair to President Kennedy

John F. Kennedy Rocking Chair
Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

On October 12, 1961, Goodwill Industries of America Executive Vice President Percy J. Trevethan and Public Relations Director Lester H. Ahlswede visited the White House East Wing to present a special rocking chair for the then newly elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
The chair was crafted by workers at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston from maple with a cane back and seat, and bore a metal plate with the inscription, “To a man of goodwill from the Goodwill Workers of Morgan Memorial, Inc. Boston.”  The materials used to create the chair cost $9.93.
One of the chair’s creators, Roy Hoffses, was born with mild cerebral palsy and later contracted polio in the 1950s. He received the Goodwill Worker of the Year designation, and his contribution to the president remains a point of pride for his family today.
White House aide John J. McNalty accepted the chair on the president’s behalf. The president frequently rocked in the chair to relieve his chronic back pain. It is now part of the permanent collection at the John F. Kennedy Library Museum in Boston.

Kennedy’s Goodwill Week Proclamation

President Kennedy meets Goodwill Worker of the YearTwo years later, President Kennedy sent a message to launch National Goodwill Week:

On the occasion of the 1963 observance of Goodwill Week, it is appropriate to recognize that a vital and compassionate service is being performed by Goodwill Industries across the country.

In helping handicapped* men and women to achieve victory over their disabilities and thereby granting them an opportunity for full and fruitful living, the work of Goodwill contributes substantially to the achievement of goals we all wish for our nation.

It is my hope that within the period marked for attainment of the program objectives described as Operation Sixty the reserve of strength accumulated through Goodwill’s sixty years of dedicated service to the handicapped will stimulate your progress so that these objectives will be overtaken and surpassed.

The realization of this ideal not only benefits the handicapped and their families, but redounds to the moral and economic good of their community and their country.

Following the president’s assassination, his administration — backed up by the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson-pushed through to enactment a program that was long on impact (and, perhaps, even longer in its name): The Mental Retardation* Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963.


#JFKDAY logoTo further commemorate Kennedy’s legacy, Goodwill Industries of Dallas will partner with the #JFKDAY of Service Project on November 23, 2013.
“Through this collaboration thousands will have the opportunity to volunteer and serve the community on one given day. JFK was an ambassador for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. It is because of him that the public was able to change their attitudes toward these individuals. So it is only proper that we honor him on this day through the efforts of giving back to the community,” said Dallas Goodwill CEO Rod Ginther.
Follow the Dallas Goodwill on Facebook for more opportunities to get involved.
* The preferred term for this population is now “people with disabilities.”