Dragon boat festival raises money for Goodwill's Augusta Career Campus

Andrew and Christina Ostrow­ski brought as much energy as they could to their team Saturday.


With his hair dyed green and face painted and her hot pink tutu, the couple took the front seats paddling for Georgia Health Sciences University’s dragon boat team at the Good Boats dragon boat festival at Lake Olmstead to benefit Goodwill.

“We’ve got team spirit,” said Andrew Ostrowski, who sat next to his wife at the front of the 20-person boat.

Twenty teams took to the 250-meter course throughout the day. The event also showcased Asian culture through demonstrations of dances, singing, traditional Chinese musical instruments and tai chi.

Gary Tom, the chairman of the cultural committee for the event, said it was exciting to see the festival come together.

“As a Chinese person, I grew up hearing about dragon boat races, but I’ve never seen one,” he said.

Organizers said they were looking for a fundraiser other than the typical gala or golf tournament. They wanted to involve the community and raise awareness of Goodwill’s mission. They think they’ve come up with a winning idea, as steady crowds visited throughout the day.

Jim Stiff, the president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA, said the event mirrored the early work of founder Edgar Helms, who in 1902 had a “church of the nations” and brought different cultures together.

Stiff said the idea of a race was fitting because Good­will’s goal is to help “people in their life race in discovering their God-given talents.”

Money raised through Good Boats will be put toward construction of Good­will’s Augusta Career Cam­pus in the Village West Shop­ping Center on Furys Ferry Road.

Stiff said the organization is about $640,000 short of the $6 million needed to finish the project. The second phase of construction is under way.

Among the offerings at the campus will be the Helms Career Insti­tute, which will provide culinary arts classes and is scheduled to open in October.

Stiff said the institute is working with the Fanning Insti­tute at the University of Georgia to find out what employers will need from 2016 to 2020 in order to add the best programs.