By Dave Ongie
For the past couple years, teachers from the Tri-Cities chapter of the First Tee program have taught participants in the Brother’s Keeper program some basic golf skills.
Those classes have taken place indoors during the winter. For those who were bitten by the golf bug, thoughts quickly turned to trying their skills on a real golf course. On Monday, that dream became a reality.
“They’ve always wanted to go to a golf course,” said Jenny Brock, one of the First Tee instructors on hand to work with the group at Pine Oaks Golf Course on Monday. “Today is the day.”
The white van that pulled into the shaded parking lot at Pine Oaks had barely stopped when the doors popped open and the Brother’s Keeper crew made a beeline for the practice putting green. Underneath a sprawling oak tree, the group learned some putting skills from First Tee representatives Brock, Chris Crowe and Cody Weems as well as Pine Oaks golf pro Mike Jennings.
Weems, the executive director of the Tri-Cities First Tee program, was thrilled with the enthusiasm of his students.
“Brother’s Keeper is a great program,” he said. “We probably have as much fun as they do.”
After some friendly competition on the putting green, it was off to the driving range and later the course. Ashlee Thompson, the educational director at Brother’s Keeper, said Monday’s event was another opportunity for the adults with intellectual abilities to embrace a new activity.
“They are all just really excited,” Thompson said. “They love being in the community and doing things their peers do.”
It’s not all fun and games for the Brother’s Keeper participants, who also spend a good deal of time volunteering in the community. Their work includes weekly service at Second Harvest Food Bank.
Anyone wishing to learn more about Brother’s Keeper or find ways to support the organization’s mission can call (423) 268-4624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.