For United Way, helping just par for the course

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 2, 2009

By Ryan Arena


LAPLACE — The annual St. John United Way Golf Classic seems to get bigger and more successful every year. It stands to reason, then, that 2009’s event was the biggest and the most successful yet.

The 11th incarnation of the event was held Thursday at Riverlands Country Club. The Marathon Refinery-led tourney set a new high mark in terms of money raised at well over $70,000. Proceeds go to the United Way of St. John the Baptist Parish.

The tournament was created by Marathon officials looking to increase their fundraising efforts within the area.

It has worked to a large degree. Over the past decade, the event has raised over $500,000 for charity.

“We’ve gone from small potatoes to some pretty big potatoes,” said United Way executive director Dean Torres.

It’s a huge event – 84 teams and over 300 golfers participated in the all-day tournament. Aside from golfing fun, all were well-fed – the edges of the course were peppered with food vendors and tents.

“A lot of these people have been here since day one,” said Torres. “And the only thing they’re all talking about today is when we’re going to do this again next year. It’s win-win for everybody.”

Of utmost importance, Torres said, is the tournament’s cause. From the elderly to children to those simply in need of help paying their bills, the United Way of St. John benefits a wide range of parish citizens, and the money raised Thursday will go toward helping them further.

“We try to get to the root causes of issues,” said Torres. “At the end of the day, if we can help people change mindsets and do things differently to get different outcomes, I think we’ve done pretty well.

“Especially for children, to help educate them and raise expectations and help them meet those expectations … as they grow, our community grows.”

The United Way Golf Classic was blessed with clear skies and sunny weather on Thursday.

Even if it hadn’t been though, Torres figured things would have turned out just fine.

“Regardless of the weather, everyone has a good time. If it rains, we just huddle under the tent and talk business. No matter what, all of our donors get to be face to face with our agencies here, and that’s a good thing.”