Augusta, GA – Hawthorne Welcher Jr. is known as the “Czar of Housing Development” for his work as the Director of the Housing and Community Development Department for his hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Welcher has been a community leader in Augusta for the last 20 years, with his focus on empowering, educating, and creating opportunities for residents and small businesses. He expanded his portfolio of community service last year by founding Left Handed Principles, his non-profit organization devoted to instilling young people with the character and career-building tools necessary for success.
Welcher’s work running the Housing and Community Development Department for Augusta means he is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of federal, state, and local housing funds. His department manages about 850 units of housing. It’s a very full-time job but far from all of the work he has taken on. He is certain the key to elevating underserved communities is teaching young men the fundamental skills they need, but lack, to succeed in a rapidly changing economy that threatens to leave them behind. Welcher founded Left Handed Principles in 2022 to address this need.
“I created this organization to fill a gap. There are a lot of support services out there, but there are still gaps in our communities that are not really being addressed, especially from an etiquette and communication standpoint,” he said. “This is not just with our young guys, but with men in general. Many of them don’t understand how to dress professionally, how to tie a tie, proper posture, business etiquette, elevator talk, or any of these things. They are canceling themselves out before they even have a chance to show what they can do. I want to change this.”
Welcher, who is left-handed, sees a parallel between the problems facing young men generally in the community and some of his experiences growing up as someone who was “different.” That is how he came up with the name for his non-profit.
“All of my life as a left-hander I have had to look at things differently. Even if I go back to grade school, there were only two left-handed desks. All of them were shaped for right-handers. If you look at a car, the stick is always on the right, or the mouse on the computer. I had to become ambidextrous. Left-handed people are sometimes forgotten about,” he said.
Welcher’s goal for 2023 is to get his program in full swing. He is appearing at schools, non-profits, churches, fraternal organizations, and civic groups that are promoting self-sufficiency. Left Handed Principles will provide services for youth all the way up to non-profit and business support spanning infrastructure, hiring, team building, leadership, finances, and other areas.
As things change in the tech world, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the increasingly talked about ChatGPT, many career options will likely be closed off to those who fail to keep up. Although the overall future impact of AI on professionals at all levels remains unknown, a recent ABC News report indicated “the shift in demand to higher-paid, better skilled jobs could result in inequality.”
“There is a tsunami of urgency. We are already behind the 8-ball in technology. Across the board there is a broken foundation, and the world is evolving,” Welcher said. “The quicker our young men can learn skills to get from job to career to lifestyle, the quicker we can win. I am looking forward to working with anyone who wants to turn the tide in a positive direction.”