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Cutting the Ribbon

THE PLAYERS Championship Vice Chairman Michele McManamon joined children from THE PLAYERS Boys & Girls Club at the facility's opening.
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November 18, 2010

By Colin Murray, PGA TOUR Staff

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.—A year can be measured in many different ways. On the PGA TOUR, a year can be measured by points accumulated, money earned or tournaments won. With Thanksgiving approaching, a year can be measured by the blessings for which one is thankful. And for a lucky group of children, the last year can be measured by something much more concrete—as in a new safe haven for after-school activities.


In conjunction with THE PLAYERS Championship’s Giving Back Month, exactly one year after ground was broken and construction began, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Nov. 17 at THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club here.


The ribbon-cutting ceremony and official grand opening was the culmination of a 10-year, $750,000 contribution by THE PLAYERS to the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, one of the nearly 100 First Coast charities that benefited from the tournament-record $4.8 million for charity generated by the 2010 PLAYERS.


On hand for the festivities were PGA TOUR player Jeff Klauk and his wife, Shanna, who both grew up in St. Johns County and still call the community home. Both were also present for the groundbreaking ceremony in November 2009 where many of the same individuals gathered in a vacant lot.


“Last year when we were in this very spot. There was nothing but dirt, and to see what it is today is just absolutely amazing,” said Jeff Klauk. “Being around the PGA TOUR and my dad (former TPC Sawgrass Superintendent Fred Klauk), I know how important it is to have nice, safe places to grow up around and go to after school. For these kids to have this facility is just awesome.”


“As a past elementary school teacher and as a mom, I know how important it is for children to come to a fun and positive place after school,” added Shanna Klauk. “We are so happy this is going to be a part of our community.”


According to Richard Hardy, chairman of the St. Johns County area board for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, there are 5,000 families within a five-mile radius of the new location that live under the poverty level.


“When you look at urban America and start looking at real pockets of need, this area of St. Johns County has experienced a particularly high poverty rate,” said Hardy. “Many of the kids in this community were going home to empty houses after school because their parents were working. This location gives the kids a place to come and have mentorship, gain academic training and learn responsibility.”


Approximately 85 kids are already making use of THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club. Many of these children were on hand when, following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, all in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to tour the new facility and interact with the kids who will directly benefit from the club.


At one point during the post-ceremony tour, Henry Hughes, former PLAYERS CEO and executive director, sat down to a game of checkers with one of the kids who has already settled in to the new club. Though the outcome of the game wasn’t disclosed, it was clearly evident how critical the facility will be to the neighborhood’s children.


“I remember in 2005, the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida came to us regarding a much-needed Boys & Girls Club facility in this particular area of St. Augustine,” said Hughes. “Then just a year ago, many of you were here with shovels for the groundbreaking. And now, today, we actually have the grand opening of the facility, and children are already here starting to prosper. It’s just a wonderful day.”  


With amenities that include a kitchen and cafeteria to provide after-school snacks, a learning center and computer center to assist with homework and a gym to promote physical fitness, THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club is well equipped to positively affect all aspects of the children’s lives.


In addition to the facilities within the walls of the club, THE PLAYERS also provided funding for a five-hole putting green adjacent to the facility, along with six putters and countless golf balls. THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club will partner with The First Tee of St. Johns County to make golf more accessible to children who may not otherwise be introduced to the game.


“As a female athlete in both high school and in college, I know how critical it is that both boys and girls have the opportunity to engage in sports,” said Shanna Klauk. “The game of golf offers many scholarship opportunities, similar to the ones Jeff and I received, and that’s one of the reasons this partnership makes so much sense.”


While the new PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club is impressive, and Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was the culmination of years of hard work, according to Dr. Shannon Perry, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, the work is far from over.


 “This is an extremely special day for our organization, and it is very special for the children we serve, many of whom you have seen today,” said Perry. “While we are celebrating our grand opening today, there is still work that needs to be done—most importantly raising funds for the day-to-day operation of the club.”

 

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