For more than a century, Good Will-Hinckley’s mission was to offer homeless, needy boys and girls a place to live and grow into educated, self-reliant and productive adults. A recent opinion attempted to show how the pre-1960s orphanage model transitioned into other models supported or managed through government programs, thus no need for the earlier model.

This is one reason why the founder, George Walter Hinckley, refused tax funding. Doing so would place the organization at the mercy of government bureaucracies. He wanted to focus on children rather than politics, disputes, and other dysfunctions. He funded the organization for nearly seven decades through generous donations and sustainable agriculture, husbandry, and chore-doing. After Hinckley’s death, the organization sought and gained tax support and, as feared, no longer fulfills its original mission.

Good Will-Hinckley is the center of political controversy while children suffer. This might have been prevented had there been confidence in the founder’s successful model of building and maintaining a child-care organization that once was a crown jewel of Maine.

In another recent opinion, the writer accused four alumni of being neglectful in their engagement with the struggles of Good Will-Hinckley to survive its 2009-2010 closure. This accusation is far from the truth. These alumni and many others were purposely sidelined as they warned about the divergent and risky path being taken. Their voice was shunned for more than two decades as they sought to prevent the closure.

In the latter years of their lives, they once again sound the clarion call, “Good Will Must Shine.” Their remaining hopes and energies are directed toward restoring the original mission. They are willing to support this effort alongside the public charter school that now occupies what remains of the campus. Some of the cottages may still be available for the homeless if the board of directors can catch the vision.

Wes Johnston


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