The hospitality industry is an important one in the Golden Isles. Between St. Simons, Sea and Jekyll islands, there are a plethora of hotels and resorts that need talented staff to thrive. That can be hard to find.

Luckily, there is a program like the hospitality certification program offered by Goodwill of Southeast Georgia. The program is free, lasts for three weeks and includes soft skills education and local networking opportunities through partnerships with local hotels. Course graduates earned hospitality industry certification, and each were able to interview for positions at the Westin Hotel on Jekyll Island.

The cooperation between Goodwill and the Westin has tremendous benefits for all involved with the program. Along with the interviews, the graduates got to spend time touring the hotel and shadowing employees during the program.

The best thing about the program though is it provides an opportunity for attendees to learn new skills that will help them find a good job.

In an area where tourism is a key cog in the economic engine, we need qualified, knowledgeable and friendly people for tourists to interact with when they come to stay in the Isles.

When people are looking to come to a tourist destination, there is no doubt how they are treated by where they stay impacts whether or not they will come back. No matter the amenities or attractions, what sticks with most people is how they were treated by the people they interact with on a daily basis during their stay.

We are fortunate to have a wide variety of tremendous hotels and resorts that offer fantastic customer service. Their dedication to making every visitor feel welcome not only brings repeat visitors to the area, it encourages a positive word-of-mouth that will also bring in new visitors.

Of course, the program is also a tremendous benefit for the participants. Having a free course that teaches you the skills to get a new job is not just valuable, it is potentially life-changing. That fact was not lost on the graduates Tuesday.

“This course is the groundwork for a better future for us, for our careers, for our families,” said Destiny Hollins, one of the graduates, during Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

We congratulate the graduates for sticking with the program and hope for nothing but the best for them in the new opportunities available to them. We also thank Goodwill and the Westin for working together to provide the graduates with the chance to better their lives.

Classes for the program meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at Goodwill’s Job Connection Center. If you are interested in the program, or know someone who would be, contact instructor Teona Chaduneli at

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