Helms College, located in Macon and Augusta Georgia
Goodwill Industries International has a rich 100 year old history. Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, founded Goodwill in 1902 in Boston, MA. Dr. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired unemployed people to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold, and proceeds paid the workers’ wages and were invested in the development of job training programs. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born. Dr. Helms’ vision set an early course for what has become a $3.5 billion nonprofit organization with over 200 member organizations in the United States, Canada, and 24 other countries.
Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia, Inc. was founded in 1975 to serve individuals with disabilities and other special needs. In 1994, this organization conducted a community needs assessment to determine what new services Goodwill needed to develop in the mid-state area. In 1995, our agency opened its first Job Connection office in Macon, where anyone with a barrier to employment could receive career counseling and job placement assistance. Goodwill’s unique vocational service(s) have helped tens of thousands of unemployed individuals discover and develop their gifts and begin new careers.
In 1996, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia, Inc. expanded its territory into Augusta, Georgia and Aiken, South Carolina, increasing the number of service counties to 35 to become Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). There are three other Goodwill organizations headquartered in Georgia and two other agencies in South Carolina. Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA has been recognized with numerous international awards and is one of the fastest growing Goodwill organizations in the world.
In response to the Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA President/CEO’s concern for meaningful skill training and education for individuals seeking employment, a concept was born to further fulfill the mission of the organization, “to help people discover and develop their God-given gifts through education, work and career development services.” In July 2007, Helms Career Institute and the Polly's Hospitality Institute (the Macon campus' culinary school at Helms Career Institute) were established with the sole focus of creating an educational model for Goodwill Industries that provides skills training in the culinary arts, medical/health, automotive technology, construction, and other occupational areas that lead to middle skills careers and a path out of poverty.
Due to continued growth, a solid curriculum, and dedicated faculty, Helms Career Institute was elevated to Degree level in May 2012 and has been re-named Helms College.
Polly Long Denton had a passion for culinary arts and studied to be a professional chef at Maxim's in Paris, France. She also served on Goodwill's Hospitality Advisory Council in Macon which led to the ultimate creation of Polly's Hospitality Institute. In 2003, Polly passed away and her family and friends provided a philanthropic naming gift in her memory which established the Institute.