Grandfathers For Golf volunteers explain why they do it
■ By Tony Viola / Contributed
Grandfathers For Golf, a nonprofit program, is staffed entirely by volunteers who are typically older than 70 years of age. Volunteers come in all types: men, women, older, younger, liberal and conservative. The core value that unites them all in this single purpose is that they want to make a difference in a child’s life.
An interesting phenomenon is taking place among those who volunteer their time with Grandfathers For Golf. Not only are these senior volunteers enriching children’s lives by working with them, they are also finding major positive changes happening in their own lives.
Volunteering is rewarding
Selfless volunteering brings a sense of added purpose to every life. By imbuing the volunteers’ daily routines with an activity that rewards their experience, knowledge and their love of children, members of Grandfathers For Golf are realizing that they are energized. Instead of being indoors, they spend a few hours a week outdoors, laughing with the kids and enjoying camaraderie with their fellow volunteers.
Mike Bryant of San Jacinto has been a volunteer with Grandfathers For Golf for more than three years, introducing golf and golf etiquette to children who might never have had the chance to pick up a golf club. Bryant states that watching children learn the basics of golf while having fun is very rewarding, and spending two hours twice a week doing it is a small investment of his time.
Tom Landers, also of San Jacinto, is a four-year veteran of Grandfathers For Golf, and he says that teaching putting skills and having fun with the kids is his favorite activity of the week.
Coming down the hill from Idyllwild twice a week is David Hiemenz, a volunteer in his sixth year with the organization.
“I love doing what I’m doing here, seeing the kids improve in both etiquette and the mechanics of golf,” said Hiemenz.
Similarly, Bob Samosa of Hemet states that working with kids who have never been exposed to the game of golf gives him a lot of pleasure.
Bud Arland, 87 years young, not only works with the kids, but he also sets up the dining room and helps serve lunch every Thursday for the Grandfathers For Golf Men’s Club. This weekly luncheon, served after a round of golf, is a major money resource for Grandfathers For Golf – it’s also known as the best lunch in the San Jacinto Valley. Many of the volunteers get together on Thursday mornings for a game of golf and friendly competition among themselves.
No golfing experience necessary to volunteer
Dan Crosser and his wife, Ann, volunteer as a team, as do Alan and Andie Moehle, who came to the program without ever having swung a golf club. Andie started out as a volunteer in the kitchen, prepping snacks for the children and serving food at tournaments, which are fund-raising events for the nonprofit. When her husband Alan retired, she brought him in, and over the past year they have been learning to play golf through the “free” golf benefit enjoyed by all volunteers, even those who have never played before.
When the volunteers are asked how long they want to continue volunteering, the most common response is “Until I physically can’t do it anymore!” Many of the volunteers say, “I find myself looking forward to class every day.” Before and after class has become a major social point in their lives as well.
This organization couldn’t deliver the free services to children if it weren’t for the work of capable and dedicated volunteers. Not all volunteers work with the children because there are other duties such as taking care of clubs, carts, working in the kitchen, and helping with snacks and other duties.
Continued success depends upon more volunteers
Golf course marshals are always needed at Golden Era Golf Course. Of course, many thanks need to go to Ernie Kercmer, president; David Hiemenz, vice-president; Tony Viola, past-president; Jim Crandall, secretary and webmaster; and Arnie Giannotta, treasurer. Thanks to the hard work of course manager Linda Greilich, Golden Era Golf Course is free for use by any charity in the valley. Valley-Wide Recreation Department has also partnered with Grandfathers For Golf to facilitate the program’s use of Echo Hills, and Soboba Golf Course continues to allow advanced level children to play at their course.
Interested in volunteering? Visit Grandfathers For Golf’s website at www.grandfathersforgolf.org. Grandfathers for Golf works only in the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley and always welcomes new volunteers. All volunteers must be fingerprinted, and that fee is paid by the organization. Every volunteer proudly wears the golf shirt and hat, which bear the Grandfathers For Golf logo. Questions? Call Tony Viola at 909-754-4148.
Come on out and give a hand. You will be glad you did. It could put extra years on your life.