In the past 20 years, Mark Coleman has been playing golf to help benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL). Coleman has always been impressed with the quality of the golf tournament and commented on the goodie favors handed out like golf balls and complementary photographs.
What keeps him coming back, however, is the cause to which he is contributing.
“I always stay for the dinner program to hear from the kids about what the club means to them and the tremendous impact it has on their lives,” said Coleman, who lives in Londonderry, N.H. “Unless you hear them speak from their hearts about the passion they have, or until you go the club and see it in action, you can’t understand what the club can do. It changes lives. It’s that good.”
Coleman, retail division vice president for Catania-Spagna Oils in Ayer, was originally invited to participate in the golf tournament through his trade affiliation in the food industry. Inspired to do even more, the lifelong golfer joined the BGCL Golf Tournament Committee eight years ago. One of BGCL’s two annual fundraisers, the event raises a significant portion of the annual operating budget for critical programs focusing on academic success, healthy lifestyles, and community involvement for more than 3,800 youth members at two locations.
“It’s very gratifying to know that every dollar we raise makes a difference,” said Coleman, who has also coached club kids in basketball and sponsors a family every Christmas. “If the golf tournament can help provide a safe haven from the streets, then I’m all for it.”
The committee members’ goal, according to Coleman, is to continually enhance the experience of every golfer. For that reason, new items are always sought for the raffles, contests, and live and silent auctions, as well as ideas to keep the event innovative, such as free cigars and a massage station. Another addition a few years ago was the helicopter drop, in which the owner of the numbered golf ball that lands in the hole or closest to the pin among those dropped from a helicopter wins $2,500. Revenue is also raised through sponsorships, which are available at a variety of levels.
During the event, club kids are stationed along the course to spot balls, clean clubs, and remind the participants of the reason they are there.
“The kids’ presence is a huge part of it,” Coleman said. “I enjoy playing in the event, but I get so much more out of it than a fun day of golf with friends. Every year, I leave wanting to do more.”
On Monday, June 15 at the Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, Massachusetts, the 36th Annual BGCL Golf Tournament will take place. For more information please contact Sarah Hogue at (978) 683-2747 or at [email protected]