WEST VALLEY CITY — The game of golf seems a bit more enjoyable when the goal is raising funds for a good cause. Just ask the 116 golfers who teed it up Aug. 20 at Stonebridge Golf Club to celebrate the 37th year of Big Brothers Big Sisters providing services in Utah.
The organization provides one-on-one mentoring, matching big brothers and sisters with little children.
Thursday’s participants in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Golf Fore Kids' Sake event included Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke, who first became involved with the national organization’s chapter in her home state of Nevada. She stopped by the North Lake Tahoe BBSU group last week and was excited to join Utah supporters at the tournament.
“You need many influences and mentors in your life — people to show you the way, and not the way,” said Bahrke, a freestyle skier who won silver in 2002 and bronze in 2010. “This organization gives kids a chance to get exposed to things they may not have otherwise. It’s a perfect organization, and they do a lot for kids everywhere.”
The Salt Lake City office of Big Brothers Big Sisters relocated near 2100 South State Street, where staff is hoping signage on the busy streets brings new visibility to the organization. Big Brothers Big Sisters is also enjoying its second year of its Mentor2.0 program, which focuses on college readiness and success for high school students, and has new partnerships underway with Utah State University, Weber State University and Salt Lake Community College.
“We have a lot of great things going on at Big Brothers Big Sisters,” President and CEO Nancy Basinger said. “One of our highlights is the support we receive from the business community for us to generate funds for our mentoring programs. We couldn’t provide the mentoring matches and programs we do without support like we received at our golf tournament. It’s exciting to think about the 32 big and little matches supported by (Thursday's) efforts.”
Also among Thursday’s golfers was Mark Ferne, Utah’s 2014 Big Brother of the Year.
“Sean (Ferne’s little brother) and I were matched over eight years ago,” Ferne said. “He was this cute little 8-year-old and now he’s larger than me — a 16-year-old in high school who is driving. Early on, I helped him with homework and academics, and we also did a lot of activities. We still see each other for activities and are able to check in through texting and calls.”
Ferne credits the organization for offering a number of opportunities to volunteer and for making the process doable.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah has great staff to support the matches and help you if you are not sure about the time commitment or what to do for activities,” he said. “They offer you several options to become involved and supported me. I'm thankful because the experience has been highly rewarding.”
Ferne, like other golfers, enjoyed chatting about the organization and its commitment to mentoring.
The anticipated revenue from Thursday's tournament was around $40,000 and, for all the golfers, was an even better outcome than the coveted birdie.
Melissa Yack served as a volunteer at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Golf Fore Kids' Sake event.