Gareth Williams knows the positive affect that golf can have on a child’s responsibility, sense of respect and confidence.
Early in his life, Williams played golf and soccer, but by the time he was 12 years old he knew that golf would be his sport and he started taking lessons from golf pro Charlie DeLucca at Miami’s Melreese golf course.
“He made a really good impression on me,” Williams says. “I liked him a lot and he’s been my coach ever since. I know and love all of the people over at Melreese.”
Two years ago, DeLucca founded the Miami chapter of First Tee, a nonprofit charity with 129 U.S. chapters dedicated to teaching golf to economically disadvantaged kids. Williams, a Palmetto High junior and a golf team player, saw the founding of First Tee Miami as an opportunity to try his hand at passing along the golf knowledge he had gained. So he donated his time as a counselor during the last two summers.
“Since the Learning Center opened, I’ve volunteered to help kids with their swing, help run the camp and get everything set up,” Williams says. “I go there three or four weeks in the summer and I love teaching the kids how to play golf and watch them get better.”
Williams, 17, decided that his high school community service project would have something to do with golf. He discussed the idea of collecting equipment for First Tee with his parents, teammates and coaches and they all agreed that it was a great idea.
“I thought about how much I enjoyed being a counselor, helping underprivileged kids learn to play golf, and a lot of my teammates are familiar with First Tee and were really open to helping out,” he says. “We’re pretty close with everyone over at the Palmetto Golf Course, so I talked to them. They were really nice about it and it grew from there.”
Until Aug. 15, Williams and his teammates are collecting new and used equipment — clubs, bags, shirts, hats, pull carts, shoes, tees, balls and anything golf-related — with drop-off locations at the Palmetto Bay Golf Course, Biltmore, Planet Golf and Melreese. Williams says he can arrange pick-ups for those who can’t get to one of the drop-off locations. He says all donations are tax deductible.
“We’re just thankful for what people give us and we’ll do what we can to go out there and get equipment for these kids,” he says. “I really want to thank everyone for helping me do this. It feels great to know that I’m helping kids grow in a positive way.”
By Jesse Scheckner