As owner of Archadeck of Central GA, my ties with the Central Georgia community run deep. My passion is for much more than just providing the community with a trusted source to turn to for designing and building an outdoor living space. It’s important to me to be a proactive member of the community and to work hands on to make a difference in the community. Since 2005, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the Goodwill organization here in Central GA working on various committees and holding several leadership positions. Personally, my greatest joy and accomplishment is in working with and watching Helms College come to life and watching it make the dreams of others come true.
Helms College is the educational arm of our local Goodwill. It started with a concept I hold close to my heart; making a quality education and employment opportunities more accessible to all. My late wife, Polly Long Denton, worked with the president of Goodwill Industries to impart her unique vision of how to help people discover and develop their God-given gifts through education, work and career development. Polly had a passion for culinary arts having studied at Maxim’s in Paris. She also served on Goodwill’s Hospitality Advisory Council in Macon which led to the creation of Polly’s Hospitality Institute. Polly’s Hospitality Institute was established to create an educational model for Goodwill Industries that provides skills training in the culinary arts. The ultimate goal is for this education to lead to middle skills careers and a path out of poverty.
Polly’s Hospitality Institute, a cooking college, was elevated to Degree level in May 2012 and renamed Helms College. In 2012 Helms College added a second campus in Augusta, the heart of the CSRA. Set in a beautiful campus that includes Edgar’s Grille and the Snelling Center, both business enterprises supporting Helms College’s culinary programs. The Augusta campus was the first to offer evening programs to complement the busy schedules of working students. The experiential learning students receive through Helms is like no other in the region. The hands-on programs not only educate, they enrich the lives of the students. Helms College is also one of the only culinary arts and occupational training schools that offer career counseling and job placement assistance.
In 2014, Helms College received approval for Associate Degree programs in Culinary Arts for its Macon Campus adding Associate Degree programs at the Augusta Campus in 2015. An agreement in 2014 with the Art Institute allows students to earn an Associate Degree at more affordable rates at Helms College, and complete their Bachelor’s Degree at one of five Art Institute campuses in the Southeast. Helms College and its culinary programs are licensed by the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC) and nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET).
Looking back at my last 10 years with Helms College, it’s fun to think of the phrase “we’ve come a long way baby”. Helms College is the first of its kind within the Goodwill Industries national organization. But while it’s the first formal college within the Goodwill organization, it’s merely a great extension of the Goodwill mission to help provide meaningful employment and paths out of poverty for those who would otherwise not have these opportunities. Named Helms College, it bears the name of Goodwill’s founder Edgar Helms. Born in 1863, Edgar was both called to ministry and drawn to helping immigrants who had so many challenges to employment. Edgar’s vision of giving to the poor was different – a hand up vs. a hand out. Edgar found ways to help people help themselves by providing them with meaningful skills and experience.
While my involvement with Goodwill and Helms College over the last 10 years has been rewarding, challenging and fulfilling for me, I can only wonder what the next 10 years will bring. I am honored to have taken on the role as Chairman of the Board for Goodwill. We have goals and visions and dreams to find new and deeper ways to create employment and enrich lives.
As an active member of their Strategic Advisory Committee and now in my 2nd year as Chairman of the Board, we are working towards our 20/20 strategic plan for the future. Part of the focus of the Strategic Advisory Committee is to plan and budget for the next four years of growth at Helms. This growth will benefit the entire community and includes pursuing expansions within the catering genre of Helms College and expansion from a geographical perspective with the hopes of adding schools in additional schools in additional locations in Georgia, South Carolina and beyond. You can read more about the future plans for Helms College in our blog Pride and Prosperity; Looking Ahead to the Future of Helms College.
If you would like to learn more click on the links below. If you would like a special culinary experience, visit Edgars Bistro for lunch Tuesday through Friday at 5171 Eisenhower Pkwy in Macon.
Read some more about Helms College, Helms Career Institute and Goodwill below.