Ned Helms, Grandson of Goodwill Founder Rev. Edgar Helms, Delivers Commencement Address at Helms College

By Angi Harben, Senior Director of Communications, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA

An enthusiastic group of 575 family and friends cheered on 65 graduates from the Augusta campus of Helms College at a grand ceremony held at the Miller Theater on January 30. The highlight of the ceremony was the commencement address delivered by Ned Helms, grandson of Rev. Edgar Helms, Goodwill founder and namesake of Helms College.

Helms addressed the 65 graduates from programs in Health Services and Hospitality, 85 percent of whom already have job offers in their chosen fields.

“I often wonder what my grandfather would say if he could see Goodwill® today. But I think I know what he would say: ‘Don’t be satisfied until every person has the chance to reach their full potential.’ To be able to see this college named after him help people to do what he always wanted, for them to discover their fullness through work and education, is amazing.”

The private, independent post-secondary career school sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA, has been accredited since 2011 and has campuses in Macon and Augusta. CEO James Stiff noted it took 12 years and more than $20 million to make Helms College self-sustaining. With this investment and a sophisticated higher education infrastructure in place, he estimates a branch of Helms College could be established through other autonomous Goodwill organizations in less than two years.

“This is a way to lift thousands onto career pathways out of poverty toward a maximum of abundant living,” Stiff said.

Helms College offers accredited programs through its School of Health Services and School of Hospitality. Edgar’s Hospitality Group delivers applied learning opportunities for hospitality students through its conference centers, restaurants, private dining club, corporate dining venues, catering services and a soon-to-open terrace restaurant-bar. A School of Trades was recently launched and a School of Business-Technology is also planned.

“The path my grandfather walked on the streets of Boston in 1902 is the same one …leading to this place,” Helms said before the ceremony. “And the students have taken that path to open doors for their futures.”

View a video commemorating this milestone event in the lives of these graduates.