ONE MAN'S VISION
The History of
In the early 1800's, a young George Walter Hinckley witnessed a small boy's arrest for reaching into a working man's dinner pail. George Walter asked himself why no one had taken notice that the young boy had been without food for 3 consecutive days. He was not a criminal, he was simply hungry.
At that point, George Walter vowed to come to the aid of young boys in similar plight. He would build a house... houses... and provide homes for those in need.
In the 1860s, George Walter was a student at Guilford Institute in his home town of Guilford, Connecticut. It had been written that new students there were spotted easily, and George noticed a thin, young, somewhat aggressive young man with tousled hair. From head to toe, none of his clothing matched.
After befriending the young man, George W. discovered him to be an orphan, assigned to work at a nearby farm. The young man, Ben Mason, was seeking refuge on the grounds of the school after finding the farm to be a very unpleasant place where he was treated very poorly.
George told Ben he didn't have to go back to the farm. Instead he could stay at his home with his family. Although the parents of George W. struggled financially, they took in Ben willingly and the two became lifelong friends. Thus, the Good Will Idea began.
George was a spiritual man and an impressive preacher, who longed to become a minister. His work with a Sunday school brought him to Maine where he became determined to build a home for needy boys. Farming was also important to him, and in looking for a location for this home, he found a Fairfield, Maine farm, owned by the Chase family - grandparents of former Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith - to be ideal. Good Will Farm, as it is known, was then and still is the cornerstone of Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls.
Since 1889, our mission remains to provide a home and helping hand for young people and families. The organization has helped more than 6,000 youth from Maine and other states. Historically, Good Will-Hinckley has been home to youth facing complex academic, social, behavioral and emotional challenges. Before going to Good Will, they may have lacked sufficient support at home and/or in school. The 1,800 acre campus now serves high school students at our alternative high school the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences. Making use of our farmland, forest, and wilderness, we designed a rigorous curriculum focused on agriculture, forestry, and sustainability with a strong emphasis on project-based, hands-on learning.
In its earlier days of existence, Good Will-Hinckley operated solely on donations. Today, we are fortunate to receive money from referring schools for tuition expenses. Fundraising is responsible for meeting education expenses and covering on campus living costs for our students so they can continue to have the well-rounded life experience that has led to so many success stories for our youth, who come from all over the US. Learn how you can get involved by clicking here.
We welcome visitors to the Good Will-Hinckley campus year-round. When planning a visit to New England, include a visit to our beautiful, 1,800-acre campus located in central Maine. Check out our L.C. Bates Museum which offers which offers spring and summer activities, impressive exhibits, and detailed local histor or take a hike on one of our beautiful trails during the warm weather months.