Senior Volunteers with the Aloha Spirit are having fun and preparing for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Haualalai coming up January 19 – 25, 2015. This PGA Champions Tour event, televised internationally on The Golf Channel, requires the work and dedication of 400 local residents every year. Kona Rotary, with support from The Four Seasons at Hualalai, signs them up and manages their many duties.
“We love our committed seniors, says Larry Webb, Volunteer Co-Chair for Kona Rotary. “Ninety percent of our volunteers are retirees and seniors. Without Kona retirees, the monumental logistics of an event this size could not be carried out. I handle the technical side — spreadsheets, scheduling and volunteer operations.”
Co-Chair Kris Hazard is the front person who coordinates MEC’s mighty team. “Our crackerjack volunteer managers train and run their own crews for Scoring, Standard Bearing, Golf Pro and Spectator Transportation, and staffing Spectator Village. They also assist Tournament Operations and the Golf Channel. What we love about our seniors is their commitment longevity. Every year they return with a smile, creating a well-oiled machine, alive with camaraderie and aloha.”
January’s PGA Champions Tour season-opener also gives volunteers opportunity to give back to their community. Some, like Bill and Cindy Armer, are golfers who retired to Kona from the mainland. “We wanted to be a part of the community. At the Tournament, we’re having fun and helping Hawai‘i. We’re proud to wear our volunteer shirts and play at Hualalai when it is in tournament condition.”
MEC Volunteers who work three full shifts earn a free round of golf at the prestigious Hualalai Golf Club. What a plum to play a private course when it is in top condition. But the Hawaii County community is the big winner. Fabulous international TV exposure builds their economy, and PGA Champions Tour makes generous donations to three local charities each year. Kona Rotary turned their gift into ten $1,000 student scholarships, free eye exams for 500 Hawaii County elementary school children, medical equipment for Kona Community Hospital and new turf at athletic fields in Kona public parks. Champions Tour donations also benefit The Daniel R. Sayre Foundation, which underwrites rescue equipment for Hawaii County firefighters and first responders, and Big Island Junior Golf Association.
Volunteering is a great way for active seniors to make a huge difference in their community. To volunteer call Alan at 808-936-6074. For information on the Mitsubishi Electric Championship log on to www.pgatour.com/mec.