Youth Center aces annual golf fundraiser

Tournament sold out and raised nearly $30K and counting

Young golfers playing on the Rio Hondo Golf Course at The Youth Center’s fundraiser. Photo by Tim De Shazer

The Youth Center celebrated the eighth anniversary of its annual golf tournament fundraiser. Held on July 10 at the Rio Hondo Golf Course in Downey. The event raised funds for at-risk and disadvantaged youth in surrounding communities. Along with providing lunch, dinner, prizes, and raffles for guests. What makes this fundraiser special is that it welcomes kids onto the course.

Arnie Fine has sat on The Youth Center’s Board of Directors for over 30 years. He came up with the golf tournament idea as a way to include kids, since they are directly impacted by the fundraiser. As the Golf Committee Chair, his job is to handle the “nuts and bolts” of the event and bring in golfers to play in the tournament.

“As far as golf tournaments go, most of them include adults only. We’re a youth center, so why not include youth in our golf tournament?” Fine said. Golfers as young as eight and nine years old participate. The Youth Center partners with the Long Beach Junior Golf Association to invite young players, and parents also bring their kids along.

Fine plays regularly with a group of golf buddies at Huntington Harbor Golf Club, and he has other connections from playing tennis and baseball. Because of his community contacts, he was able to bring in about 40 golfers himself this year. Over a month before the event, the tournament sold out at 144 guests.

“It’s a fun atmosphere,” Fine said, adding that golfers are placed in groups of four at the tournament. “People get matched up and they don’t know each other, and they might meet and make new friends.”

The Youth Center’s top sponsors for this year’s event were SA Recycling and Sean Payne of Edward Jones Investments. The fundraiser’s exclusive photography sponsor was Tim De Shazer Photographer. Many other businesses and organizations sponsored holes, goodie bags, drinks, and more.

“Every hole on the course was sponsored by an amazing business in our community,” said Maryam Guirao, The Youth Center’s director of Development.

Students from Whitney High School Key Club, past and current Youth Center board members, golfers’ family members, and other supporters of The Youth Center volunteered at the tournament.

“I think all the hard work from our fundraising team, golf committee, and volunteers paid off because many golfers made a point to mention to me that this was our best tournament,” said Amanda Hernandez, Fundraising Coordinator. “This year we definitely improved in different areas like registration time and food options.”

A Habit Burger Grill food truck provided lunches of burgers and fries for guests, and checking in golfers went much smoother than in past years, said Guirao.

At a current grand total of about $29,597, the tournament raised more than last year. While the fundraiser hasn’t yet reached The Youth Center’s goal of $30,000, there is still raffle money to be accounted for, and donations continue to come in.

“The Youth Center’s Annual Golf Tournament brings in a new crowd of people that are able to bond through their love of golf all while supporting the children,” Hernandez said.

“This year’s tournament was a huge success and I couldn’t be prouder of the outcome,” Guirao said. “We had an outstanding committee of volunteers and the best golfer feedback we’ve had in years. I look forward to making next year’s event even bigger and better!”