In trying to figure out who to sponsor as first we drew from organizations with which we were already familiar. At the time the cities of Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie were building a new joint fire house inside Lake Ridge. We knew they had many things they needed that were not in their budget. Several of us were also familiar with Happy Hills Farm and Academy and their work with troubled youth. Some of our volunteers also worked with the local food pantries. We had the first group of organizations we would try and help.
We had no idea what to give out as prizes or even what contests to hold. We hosted the tournament at TangleRidge and consulted with the pro there. We utilized a company that supplies prize packages for golf tournaments. We thought we were ready. Unfortunately, we didn’t even know what we didn’t know at the time. We didn’t realize how many volunteers we needed, what instructions we needed to provide to them or how we would communicate with the volunteers on the course. That seems ridiculous to consider now but this was 2008 and the iPhone had only been out a little over a year.
The good news is that we survived those early years. We learned that not all prizes are created equal. We learned that there are lots of people who want to come and help in Cedar Hill. And, we learned that in blessing others, we bless ourselves. We did realize after the first tournament that we need to establish an independent 501c(3) to oversee the event. First, most people making donations wanted an recognized charity for tax purposes. More important though is that it kept our funds separate from the POA. This provided reassurance to the community that we weren’t using community funds and reassurance to the sponsors that their donations were going where they were intended.
For 14 years we have been honored to host our annual charity tournament. We have been blessed to help many worthy charities like: Mission Cedar Hill, Bridges Safehouse, Cedar Hill Shares, CHAT, The Cedar Hill Education Foundation, The Pregnancy Resource Center of Grand Prairie, PAWS For Reflection Ranch, The Zula B. Wylie Library, LakeRidge Elementary School, and the Cedar Hill Fire Department.
I remember the first year we supported Bridge Safehouse. They were suggested to the committee as a potential beneficiary, but it was past the deadline. The decision was made that we would consider them for the following year. We also decided that if we had more in proceeds than we had committed for that year then we would consider a donation to Bridges. As it turned out that was the largest year we had to date for fund raising and we were going to be able to bless an additional charity with the proceeds. We decided to support Bridges and invited them to the awards ceremony. They didn’t know how much money they were receiving. We called them up, presented them with the oversized check with the dollar amount written in big print, $5,000.00. The director started crying and she said, ‘You don’t know what this means. This morning we had a board meeting to discuss our year end budget. We need $5,000.00 to get through the end of the year and we didn’t know where we were going to get the money. The lesson here, God knew about their need and was already sending the answer before they even knew it existed.
Having the opportunity to serve our community and serve the lord makes all the work worthwhile.