Within the first few months of 2022, membership at the Boynton Beach, Fla. club banded together for charitable efforts to benefit multiple worthy organizations. “It feels good to be a part of a club that has such a big heart,” says Larry Savvides, CCM, CCE, Chief Operating Officer & General Manager.
By Larry Savvides, CCM, CCE, Chief Operating Officer & General Manager, at Hunters Run Country Club in Boynton Beach, Fla.
I had the privilege to work at wonderful clubs throughout my career, spanning from Long Island to New Jersey and now in Florida. It never ceases to amaze me the philanthropy of our members who step up to help those in need and in times of crisis.
When I started in the private club industry, working for my father, alongside my brother, it was ingrained in me that making a difference matters—whether it is helping feed the poor, donating blood, watching out for your employees, or raising money to help those in need. I also learned that there are many ways to make a difference that are as important as financial donations. For instance, contributing time and talent by serving as a board or committee member, a volunteer, or supporting one of the many fundraising projects undertaken throughout the year.
In short, your country club’s philanthropic efforts can ultimately help set you apart from other clubs. When the members do something good for others, it not only makes us feel good about the club in which we represent, but also about ourselves.
As an example, within the first few months of 2022, the Hunters Run membership banded together for charitable efforts to benefit multiple worthy organizations. Because of the generosity and the unwavering commitment of numerous member-volunteers, last year’s donation to the Alzheimer’s Association from the club’s annual Step Up to Wellness Expo was doubled to $15,000; this year’s Play for P.I.N.K. contribution of more than $150,000 far surpassed last year’s Florida record-breaking contribution; and within a week, more than $50,000 was collected for World Central Kitchen “Chefs for Ukraine.”
Our membership has also donated 2,250 pounds of packaged food and water to The Soup Kitchen in Boynton Beach, which we are told was by far the single largest donation received in a long while. Longtime Hunters Run resident Irwin Lebow, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, donated more than $40,000 to the Jewish Family Services of Palm Beach County through his #Love4Lebow campaign Project H.O.P.E. efforts to help the poor and elderly. Overall, upwards of $250,000 has been contributed to non-profits from Hunters Run this season alone – a feat that is humbly celebrated every day.
These simple acts of kindness continue to bring our members closer together and instill a greater sense of pride and satisfaction in being a part of the Hunters Run community.
But before we assume any charitable cause, a designated committee called the Government and Community Relations Committee undertakes a review process to determine which campaigns are the most viable and will require employee resources. Detailed information about the charity is submitted from the requesting member. Organizations we have worked with in the past generally receive the first review.
When local, national, or global events unfold, like the Ukrainian refugee crisis, our members jumped into action. The continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine and the destruction could not go unnoticed. As refugees poured across borders to seek shelter, the call to do something echoed throughout the membership. The questions became “what and to whom” do we donate? Recognizing that a new crop of charities was popping up with sound-alike names, we were leery of the viability of any group accepting cash donations. We selected the World Central Kitchen “Chefs for Ukraine,” a not-for-profit organization that is responsible for providing hot and fresh meals for those in need 24/7. This humanitarian group was founded by José Andrés, the world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist, who has set up mobile kitchens to provide hot meals for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.
Aiming to raise $10,000, our members set up donation centers at our golf starter’s booth, at the club’s poolside restaurant, and main clubhouse entrance. Members of the committee canvassed the property, from the restaurants to the racquet sports center to the driving range, collecting donations. We even created a signature cocktail called the “Ukraine-Rita” and donated $2 from every drink purchase toward the effort. At one of the outdoor concert events that week, the Ukraine-Rita was the cocktail of the night.
With a donation of $20 or more, Hunters Run members received a Ukrainian flag to display on their golf cart or at their homes to show their hope for the people of Ukraine. We collected $54,000; an inspiring testament to the members and employees who gave of themselves, even though we had just come off two recent fundraising events. It felt good to know that the club was capable of making a difference and not for a moment did the membership feel that the well was already empty.
In researching the best group with whom to partner, we found several organizations that provide information on the credibility of charities. Groups such as CharityWatch, GiveWell, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator are excellent vetting resources and provide information on how efficiently donations are used to fund the programs you have chosen.
Hunters Run is noted for many of its amenities and programs for its members. But it is also noted for being a philanthropic community; a community that recognizes the importance of “Paying It Forward.” Without fanfare. Without the need for recognition. Just the need to help. It feels good to be a part of a club that has such a big heart.