Charity golf tournaments are a lot of work; just ask anyone who has ever been involved in these favorite Grand Strand fundraisers, but the outings can be financially rewarding for nonprofit organizations such as Grace Ministries / Neighbor to Neighbor. Andrew Vovou and B. J. Bryant, co-chairmen of the seventh annual Grace Ministries Golf Tournament April 27 in Pawleys Island, are looking for corporate sponsors that will help make the fundraiser as successful as last year’s tournament, which netted about $12,000.
The number of sponsors was a key and “This year, corporate sponsors are a little thin” thus far, Vovou says. He is treasurer of the board and co-chairs the Resource Development Committee. “Hole sponsors ($100) are rolling in.” Kathy Jenkins, executive director of Grace Ministries, says an event sponsorship is available and can be customized to the sponsor’s desire. Corporate, executive and fairway sponsorships are $2,500, $1,000 and $250 respectively.
Tom Garber, a long drive hitter, will be at this year’s tournament at the Founders Club, described by Vovou as “definitely one of the top three courses on the South Strand.” The tournament typically draws 70 to 85 golfers, Vovou says, so the outing has room for many more players. The format is a shotgun start, with a foursome on every tee, and a second foursome up to a maximum of 144. Vovou would be delighted “if I had to create a second day” of play.
Grace Ministries has grown in the past three years, as illustrated by the approximately 130 attending the Volunteer Celebration Luncheon on Monday. Popular coach David Bennett talked about the importance of volunteering. “What an inspirational guy,” Jenkins said of Bennett, recently the Socastee High School athletic director after starting the football program at Coastal Carolina University. Bennett has been named AD and football coach at River Bluff High School in Lexington.
Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers, who provide transportation to medical appointments, for grocery shopping and so forth, increased to 221 at the end of 2012 from 59. That growth was over only 18 months, Jenkins says. More volunteers provide more trips for more homebound residents, primarily seniors. In 2012, Neighbor to Neighbor provided 4,853 transports, up from 3,934 in 2011. For 2010, the number was 2,400.
In 2012, the number of persons transported was 303, an increase from 216 clients in 2011. The clients are served multiple times. The numbers are for Horry and Georgetown counties. Volunteers provide their time, vehicles and fuel. The nonprofit provides insurance coverage. “We’ll take a qualified resident anywhere they need to go, if we have a volunteer available to make the trip.” Jenkins encourages folks who are already providing transportation to sign on with Neighbor to Neighbor.
Monday’s volunteer luncheon was in honor of Don Boutcher, the very first volunteer when the faith-based Grace Ministries shifted its focus to transportation in 2008. Boutcher died in February and had volunteered as recently as November.