Melissa Briggs

Women’s History Month: Bringing Goodwill to Denver

It all started back in 1918 at the Epworth Church on Lawrence Street in Denver, Colorado. Denver residents would see Methodist Deaconess Melissa Briggs riding her bike around Denver collecting donations, putting people to work cleaning and repairing the donations, and then subsequently giving the donations to people in need.

Melissa felt that everyone has value, everyone has a voice, and everyone has something that they can bring to the table. This sentiment is at the heart of Goodwill and led Melissa Briggs to officially bring Goodwill to Denver on April 4, 1918.

Goodwill initially operated out of at Melissa Briggs’ parish at Epworth Institutional Church on the corner of 31st and Lawrence. The Epworth Church still stands at its original location today. In fact, the building has recently been renovated and restored to its original grandeur with one of its stain-glassed windows dedicated to Melissa Briggs. 

In 1931, Goodwill was formed as a Colorado non-profit organization. Goodwill began to outgrow the Epworth church facilities resulting in the purchase of a building near 23rd and Larimer which became Goodwill Industries of Denver’s first modern-day retail store. The store became a popular landmark for families with limited means.  As the country slipped into the Great Depression, Goodwill helped the Epworth Methodist Church with mortgage payments and helped keep their Neighborhood Recreation Center open.

In its early days, Goodwill Denver’s mission programs focused on serving injured World War II veterans. Goodwill also established its first vocational rehabilitation training program for people with disabilities in Colorado in the 1940s. In the 1970s Goodwill began to strengthen its retail operations, adding new stores and remodeling existing stores.

More than a century later, Melissa’s spirit of helping others is present throughout the Goodwill community. Goodwill of Colorado currently serves over 124,000 Coloradans in need annually and has 42l stores, four outlets, and our Déjà Blue Boutique. The donated items we receive help Goodwill create jobs, provide work experience and training opportunities for students, adults with barriers to employment, and individuals with disabilities.

Because of Melissa Briggs dedication to her Colorado community, for over a century now Goodwill has been able to help Coloradans realize their full potential through the Power of Work!


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