Washington Sets National Pace Bringing First Tee Program to School District

Meridian Valley Country Club recently announced the results of a fundraiser to bring the First Tee National School Program to the Kent (Wash.) School District. During a "Realize the Dream" fundraiser, the club's members raised $104,000 to help launch the program in Kent's 28 elementary schools. Meridian Valley is the first private club in the United States to give support to a local school district in this manner.

The National School Program is an initiative of the First Tee, which promotes character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.

"By supporting this program, through their generosity and willing participation, the members of Meridian Valley Country Club are giving back to our community in a positive way," says Jeff Huget, president of Meridian Valley. "What better way to benefit, not only the lives of children involved, but also the community where we live?"

The focus of the First Tee National School Program is to establish a lifelong interest in golf by engaging young people in a structured golf curriculum that promotes personal character development within a physical education setting during elementary school.

"On behalf of the children of the Kent School District I would like to thank Meridian Valley Country Club for their support of this program. This is a wonderful opportunity for some of our most needy students to share a golfing experience that would have been unlikely in their family situations," said Dr. Barbara Grohe, Kent School District superintendent. "Our community will certainly benefit from the core values these young, upcoming citizens are developing."

The golf community and physical education teachers know it is important for kids to learn activities that provide lifetime benefits while integrating strong character values, said Cathy Wagner, director West Region Affairs for the First Tee, who said the National School Program emphasizes the First Tee nine core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

Robin Lorain, assistant professional at Meridian Valley, inspired other members to get involved after she volunteered her time at several elementary schools. "Golf teaches very valuable traits and characteristics, things that are going to be important to you in everyday life," Lorain said. "This will teach the students to be more confident and help them see the results from their judgment."

Katie Haley, a Meridian Valley member and chairperson of the fundraiser commented, "I'm so excited to have the opportunity to introduce the game we all love to young people who never thought it was possible to have a chance to play."

"We are extremely pleased with the effort of Meridian Valley Country Club," said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., chief executive officer of the First Tee. "They have set a wonderful example for other country clubs to give back to the young people in their communities."