By Dave Ongie, News Editor
In the midst of all the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced into all of our lives, a little serendipity occurred last week at the Johnson City Country Club.
Steve Cox, CEO of the Dawn of Hope likens the events leading up to the most successful Dawn of Hope Golf Classic in the history of the event as “a perfect storm.” That storm flooded the Dawn of Hope’s coffers with $37,564 in desperately needed revenue and another $20,000 in in-kind donations from local businesses that provided quality door prizes to tournament participants.
“That’s actually over $10,000 more than we netted last year, and it shattered our previous record of $31,830 which was set in 2013,” Cox told the News & Neighbor last Thursday. “To get that kind of response and turnout in 2020 is absolutely amazing with everything else that is going on in the world.”
The golf tournament is traditionally played in the springtime and was slotted for a May date this year before COVID-19 shut everything down. Cox said rescheduling the event was kind of a “moving target” due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. The original plan was to pair the tournament with the organizations fall fundraisers – a $10,000 reverse raffle and a Spooktacular Halloween-themed event – but the longevity of the pandemic made those type of in-person events impossible.
So the Dawn of Hope settled on Monday, Oct. 26 for the golf tournament and opted to switch from a shotgun start format to tee times in order to reduce gathering all the participants together at the same time. Meanwhile, Heather Mullins of the Dawn of Hope worked tirelessly to recruit businesses and organizations to donate items to the event, and her efforts were wildly successful.
“We wanted to send everybody that played in the tournament away with something nice,” Cox said. “I think businesses right now were so starved for exposure due to the pandemic that they were willing to donate things just to get their name out there. It really worked out super for us.”
Picture-perfect weather provided the finishing touch, and the event went off without a hitch with the help of many Dawn of Hope employees, staff and board members.
As for the money that was raised, it will go toward providing vital services to adults in our community with intellectual and developmental delays. The Dawn of Hope works with these folks on a daily basis to help with everything from clothing needs to food and many other forms of support.
In the midst of a pandemic, providing a sense of community has taken on a greater importance for those at the Dawn of Hope. The day facility, which has been the Dawn of Hope’s bread and butter since its inception, has been shut down to help slow the spread of the virus, so Dawn of Hope employees are serving clients in residential homes.
“So we’ve really had to make a lot of efforts this year to keep our employees engaged and keep the people we support from feeling like they’re out there on an island,” Cox said.
The staff at the Dawn of Hope has gone to great lengths to maintain a healthy sense of community among their physically distanced employees and clients. They routinely deliver pizzas or Girl Scout Cookies to the folks they serve. Over the summer, they transformed a pair of minibuses into makeshift ice cream trucks – complete with Bluetooth speakers blaring ice cream truck music – and delivered cold treats to their clients.
This past weekend, a Halloween parade was held in the parking lot behind the Dawn of Hope, complete with costumes and trick-or-treating. Cox knows how important these services are to the Dawn of Hope’s clients, especially during a pandemic. For that reason, he was thrilled that this year’s tournament was a runaway success.
“Day-to-day activities for the folks we support are so important,” he said. “Funding is very limited, and that only gets worse with time, so events like this are going to become more and more important for providers like Dawn of Hope going forward.”