By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — They teamed with Urban Ministries of Wake County, donating 100 pounds of canned food for its Food Pantry.
They worked with the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina to pack 300 pounds of potatoes at its warehouse in Durham.
And they collected over 350 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that since 2005 has delivered over 19 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes to people in over 125 countries.
Since Raleigh-based McConnell Golf launched its Footprints on the Green program 18 months ago, over 200 of its staff and members at its seven clubs in the Carolinas have volunteered over 540 hours to support a broad range of charities and charitable events.
The idea, says Lauren Barry, director of marketing at McConnell Golf, was to integrate the range of charitable activities across the clubs, giving employees at each club an opportunity learn more about and participate in activities at the other clubs, and giving members at each club who might be involved in separate activities such as golf, tennis, swimming and fitness a change to connect with one another.
“It just deepens the relationship, and it gives a number of different ways to experience the clubs,” she says. “If you enjoy the people you’re with, you’re going to be excited to come back again and again.”
Founded in 2003 by John McConnell, former CEO of A4 Health Systems and Medic Computer Systems who serves as its CEO, McConnell Golf operates Raleigh Country Club and Wakefield Plantation, both in Raleigh, and Treyburn Country Club in Durham, as well as clubs in Badin Lake and Greensboro in North Carolina, and Clinton and Pawley’s Island in South Carolina.
The company employs about 500 people and membership at its clubs totals about 3,000 people.
McConnell Golf staff and employees have sent and packed over 500 pounds of food for the Food Bank and Urban Ministries in Raleigh, Greensboro and South Carolina, helped build a home for Habitat for Humanity of Greensboro, hosted a 5K run for Greensboro Urban Ministry, donated 26 units of blood to the American Red Cross in Greensboro, and helped raise nearly $10,000 to benefit the Rex Healthcare Foundation in Raleigh.
They also have created 43 blankets for Project Linus, a nonprofit based in Bloomington, Ill., that since 1998 has provided nearly 4.5 million blankets to children in need; assisted with the annual spring games for Special Olympics Wake County at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh; and volunteered on Earth Day for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in High Point.
The charitable efforts at each club vary, based on the time of day, length of the activity, location of the event, or level of contribution.
Two key efforts include providing volunteers for Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh, and creating the inaugural “WE CARE” golf classic that will be held Oct. 1 at Wakefield Plantation to benefit North Carolina military and their families.
While McConnell Golf drives many of its charitable activities, those two efforts have been spearheaded by members of the Wakefield Senior Men’s Golf Association, a group of roughly 70 members over age 50 at Wakefield Plantation.
And last spring, Susan Flanagan, a resident of Wakefield Plantation and a McConnell Golf member, helped organize and run a tennis event that raised over $8,000 for Adaptive Tennis Association of North Carolina, a new statewide organization affiliated with the United State Tennis Association.
The group offers support, training and events in the sport of tennis for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, arranging tennis tournaments and offering tennis clinics and other events in Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington and Winston-Salem in partnership with local community tennis organizations.
Wakefield Plantation also partnered with Rex Mobile Mammography through the Rex Healthcare Foundation for a two-day “Tennis for Tatas” event to raise funds for uninsured and under-insured women in Raleigh and nearby communities, and provide mammogram screening.
Through Footprints on the Green, Barry says, McConnell Golf aims to serve the community and “build those relationships” with members.