viernes, abril 19, 2024

Planting Seeds for a Brighter Future: The First Tee Program at Diamante


What happens when the elegance of golf intertwines with the power of altruistic initiative? In the heart of Diamante resides a couple who personifies the essence of igniting positive community transformations – Jim and Ginny Panoff. What started as a conversation during the challenging days of June 2020 has blossomed into something remarkable. «What can we do to give back to all the kids in Cabo?» This simple question, inspired by their grandson and a group of visionary home owner’s suggestion, led to the inception of Diamante’s First Tee Program —an endeavor that goes far beyond the golf course. 

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A «First Tee Program» typically refers to a program that involves teaching and promoting the game of golf, particularly to beginners, children, or individuals new to the sport. Within a mile radius of Diamante, there is a community of nearly fifteen hundred children under the age of sixteen. Recognizing the potential impact they could make, the Panoffs and their team embarked on their mission. They harnessed the power of social media to spread the word, resulting in a remarkable response: within just a day, a waiting list of nearly 100 children eager to join the program had formed.

The program runs every Saturday, totaling 36 weekends throughout the year, with a break during the summer due to the heat and weather conditions. Impressively, their most recent session saw the registration of 130 enthusiastic kids, many of whom are children of Diamante employees. They are brought in on the Diamante employee bus. The program’s care extends to providing essential amenities such as snacks, breakfast, and a nourishing hot lunch. To equip them fully, the kids receive hats, shirts, water bottles, and all the necessary equipment required for their active participation in the program.

The curriculum aligns with First Tee’s core values. Each week, a specific value is highlighted, with golf lessons designed to impart valuable life skills. For instance, a focus on ‘honesty’ might lead to lessons on sound judgment. Another value, ‘courtesy,’ sets the tone for interactions by encouraging respectful greetings and behaviors.

Before the kids are grouped by age and skill, the value of the week is explored in depth. Reflective discussions delve into its relevance in golf, friendships, family, school, and community settings. The children then engage in various games and activities centered around the core value and the game of golf itself. An impressive ratio of one adult for every four children ensures personalized attention and care. Each week, around thirty-five dedicated adults contribute their time, acting as coaches, assistant coaches, and volunteers who keep the program running smoothly. Their collective efforts aim not just to improve golf skills, but also to instill enduring values that extend beyond the realm of sport.

The First Tee Program not only encourages physical activity but also forms bridges of friendship among children from diverse backgrounds. These interactions are particularly crucial given the isolation experienced by many due to the pandemic. Some of them had not interacted with other children in months! It cultivates leadership among older kids, who serve as role models for the younger participants.

The opportunity to learn golf presents itself as a unique advantage. The program’s generosity levels the playing field, opening doors for underserved communities. For some, this may serve as a stepping stone to scholarships and even a shot at a professional career. The dream of a Los Cabos kid playing on the PGA tour isn’t far-fetched, thanks to the groundwork laid by the First Tee Program. 

This remarkable endeavor finds its roots in the generosity of the patrons of Diamante, particularly its founders who have displayed unwavering dedication to this cause. These philanthropists invested not only their financial resources but their hearts and souls into the program. Through their generosity, the First Tee Program has flourished, illuminating the potential that lies within individuals and organizations when they commit to a shared goal. Their support exemplifies the power of community-driven initiatives and showcases the potential of individuals to make a lasting impact.

This is an enterprise that Ken Jowdy, CEO of Diamante, holds particularly close to his heart. He shared that connecting to his employees through their children gave his role in the resort a new sense of purpose. With each swing of a club and every exchange of wisdom, the First Tee Program shapes not only the lives of the children it embraces but also the landscape of Cabo’s community. As the sun sets on another Saturday at Diamante, it casts a warm glow on the seeds of promise planted by the First Tee Program.

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