We talked to Helms about his work and what he loves most about Hamilton.
Q: What aspects do you enjoy the most about your job?
A: A lot of people ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I'm the Director of Resident Services for the City of Hamilton. They say, "What's that? I've never even heard of that department in any other cities?" And, I jokingly say, 'I book rock bands and run golf courses for a living.' With RiversEdge, I don't get paid to do that, I just like to say it. So, technically, it's not my job, but I enjoy RiversEdge and volunteering my time there. But, it's hard to not love running, and managing golf courses. I've always liked to play golf. I've worked at country clubs. My first job ever was picking up golf balls at a driving range. I was the guy who drove the cart around and got hit by the golf balls. It's a dream job for me. And, in Hamilton, the community is so great. They are so supportive of RiversEdge. They are supportive of the golf courses … . So, golf and presenting concerts are definitely the best part of the job.
Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
A: … I had doubts about being able to turn the golf courses around. It was not an easy task. When you look at the amount of money they were losing before we took them over, and changed some operations, that was a daunting task. That was an incredible feeling of accomplishment to make the courses profitable again, and knowing that we're on a path of sustainability for the golf courses, where we can keep them open and provide that amenity for the residents of Hamilton. Again, it's not in my job description, but RiversEdge was built from nothing. We started with an idea. We didn't have any money. We had to go and beg for donations, and scrape together money to do it the first year. To start with zero dollars, and now be to the point where we are booking and bringing in Grammy-nominated artists, and bands with No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts, and being able to bring them to Hamilton, and we're putting on legitimate rock shows and festivals. It's grown to something, really, even I didn't envision. It's pretty rewarding.
Q: What are three things you love the most about Hamilton?
A: 1) Everything going on in downtown. High Street, Main Street and all the events. Marcum Park is great. The Hamilton Flea is great, Operation Pumpkin and IceFest, there are so many different events, it seems like there's something going on every weekend. And, seeing the restaurants pop up … . When I moved here, there were maybe three occupied buildings on High Street. Now, they're all full. So, seeing that, and being able to have a hand in that a little bit is incredible. That would be one thing. 2) The Fitton Center is another thing. I love the Fitton Center. I'm on the board of directors there. I was on the board when we hired Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, so being involved and recruiting the executive director, and to see hands-on, all the changes that are going on at the Fitton Center has been great. The Fitton Center and RiversEdge have partnered on the WintersEdge concert series, and that's been exciting, too. 3) The third part I love about Hamilton is how welcoming and how supportive everybody has been to me. I'm from Wisconsin. I didn't know anybody when I moved here. Shortly after I moved here, I was riding my motorcycle and I got hit by a car. I ended up in the ICU unit for a week … . That was a difficult time for me. Shortly after I got out of the hospital, I was at home eating lunch, and I heard a motor running outside. I looked out in my window and Steve Timmer was out there mowing my yard for me. That doesn't happen everywhere. When that happened, I knew I was going to like living in Hamilton.
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