A few years ago, I became involved at Goodwill of Central GA. At the time, I had no idea how it would change my life. My late wife Polly was an excellent chef, a dreamer, and we together were good friends of Jim Stiff. These three things came together at Goodwill. Jim’s goal was to grow Goodwill into brave and bold new directions. He would visit my wife and I, and share his dream. Polly, the eternal enthusiast, knew it would come to life and indeed she was instrumental in making it happen. Goodwill of Central GA now has the first licensed, nationally accredited, post secondary school in the Goodwill network. When she passed, I joined the board to continue her legacy and to carry her eternal enthusiasm and cooking passion forward.
Helms College now has 2 local culinary colleges here in Macon and Augusta. Central GA area aspiring chefs no longer need to travel to Atlanta to get a great education in cooking. Making this school happen was a long process and it has been a joy to be part of the education committee even chairing the committee at one point. In addition to my involvement in the Helms College arm, I also joined the Board of Directors back in 2007 serving as secretary. In 2013, I sadly reached my term limit on the board but luckily a year off was the only requirement before rejoining the board.
Throughout my time working with Goodwill, I’ve realized that not everyone knows what Goodwill does. Everyone is familiar with the clothing stores and the Goodwill drop off locations. If you think Goodwill is in the clothing business, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Goodwill is in the business of creating jobs, locally, for those with barriers to employment. The Goodwill company started over 110 years ago when Dr. Helms envisioned an organization that would give to people while helping them to help themselves. He realized that it’s better to give someone the means to improve their life instead of giving them handouts. In fact Goodwill’s philosophy is “a hand up and not a hand out”. In 2013, Goodwill of Central GA provided services to more than 21,000 individuals with barriers to employment. Some of these barriers include disabilities, lack of work history and recipients of government support programs.
I mentioned above that this Goodwill is different. In addition to Helms College, Goodwill has a contract with Fort Gordon and Warner Robins Air Force Base that employed 226 disabled employees in 2013. That same year, the Job Connection served over 20,000 job seekers and placed almost 3,000.
Holidays are a time of reflection, appreciation, and aspirations for the coming year. In counting my blessings, after my family, being a part of Goodwill ranks up there in the most important blessings in my life. If you are interested or you know someone who is interested in a great local cooking college, check out the Polly Long Denton School Of Hospitality website.” If you are looking for employment, here is a link to Goodwill’s Job Connection. If you would like to donate and you are not sure of collection locations, here is a list of locations. Here is a list of Goodwill retail locations. The newest addition is Helms Career Institute.