Under blue skies, with a warm breeze across the green, more than 150 Connecticut teachers, supporters, and CEA leaders and staff hit the links at Glastonbury Hills Country Club on July 24 as part of CEA’s largest fundraiser of the year to benefit public school students.
The Connecticut Education Foundation’s (CEF) 28th annual Hands Across the Green Golf Tournament raised thousands of dollars to help disadvantaged children and provide relief for teachers facing extraordinary hardships.
“So many of our members know students whose families can’t afford the basics,” says CEF President and CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey. “We have students who need eyeglasses, sleeping bags, uniforms, hearing aids, school supplies, and more. The absence of those essentials can be a real barrier to a child’s learning and development, and educators are often the ones reaching into their own pockets to ensure their students are cared for. Hands Across the Green raises money to make that kind of assistance possible.”
DeLancey points out that all school districts—even in the most affluent communities—have children in need, and educators are in a unique position to know where those gaps exist and to reach out to CEF for help.
Among the day’s players were special education teachers, preK through high school classroom educators, school social workers and counselors, and physical education and health teachers, all of whom know students in different ways.
“Working together in our schools and out here, we make lives better for so many children,” says DeLancey, who credits the tournament’s players, sponsors, and volunteers for making Hands Across the Green a success each year. In its 28-year history, the tournament has raised more than a million dollars for needy children in Connecticut’s public schools.
Good company, good cause
“I love supporting the good work of the Connecticut Education Foundation,” says Greenwich Education Association President Lil Perone. “Taking care of teachers and students is what CEA is all about.”
“It’s such a great cause, and I’m proud to represent Suffield,” says social studies teacher Mike Barile.
Shelton High School social studies teacher and building rep Mike DeFelice agrees. “It’s a nice way to give back.”
Recently retired teacher Theresa McKeown, who served as president of her local union, adds, “It’s the right thing to do. In West Hartford, we have a lot of kids who have benefited from The Children’s Fund. Our district and so many others have families who are newly arrived from other countries and may not have all the resources they need. Eyeglasses and winter coats are a big need we’ve seen every year.”
The West Hartford Education Association was a major sponsor of this year’s tournament.
“Our local has been participating in the tournament since its inception, and we’re happy to carry the torch,” said Ashford teacher Chris Busse. “This fund has helped a child in our district whose glasses were broken and has come to the aid of a family who lost their belongings in a house fire.”
Some of this year’s players—like fellow Ashford educator Bernie Schreiber, now retired—have never missed a year, like other decades-long veterans who plan summer vacations around the tournament.
Cheshire eighth grade science teacher John Runte and Waterbury Teachers’ Association President Kevin Egan have been coming out to Hands Across the Green for more than 20 years.
“It’s a great time,” says Runte, “and I look forward to it every summer.”
“They add new elements every year to make it more and more fun,” says Egan. “It just keeps getting better.”
In addition to familiar faces, the tournament continues to draw new participants.
“Our union treasurer reached out to see if I was interested—I play a little bit of golf—and I said, ‘Sure!’” Manchester High School English teacher Steve O’Reilly shares. “After a few weeks off in the summer, it’s fun to hang out with teachers in a social setting and see how everyone’s doing.”
“This was my first outing,” says Manchester High School social worker Gary Cesca. “It’s an opportunity to be with colleagues in a different way that we can’t really do once the school year is under way, so I’m really happy I was asked to come.”
“It’s a blast!” says East Hartford math specialist Laura Corpora, who won this year’s long drive for women after playing as part of a women’s foursome for the first time last year. “We’re friends who teach in districts all over the state, and it was such a fun time that I organized another foursome this year with a fellow teacher and our husbands. When it comes to supporting children, teachers are always in.”
Glastonbury special education teacher Stacey Pinto, who also organizes foursomes each year, says, “It’s great to bond with colleagues in an atmosphere outside of school.”
Teachers score for students
Teachers and supporters competed for overall scores as well as prizes in several categories, including closest to the pin, a chipping contest, long drive, and fantasy golf.
First-place gross winners, with a score of 60, were the silver sponsor CBRE team of Jim Bonfiglio, Todd Ruder, Gary Schless, and Steve Zajac. Second place went to the Waterbury Teachers’ Association foursome of Carl Brault, Kevin Egan, Jeremy Klein, and Jason Batch. Hebron Education Association’s team of Darin Aloia, Mike Corona, and Alex and David Lefevre took third.
First-place net winners, with a score of 53, were Shepaug Valley Education Association’s team of George and Tary Flaherty and Bryan and Lori Bishop. In second place was Stonington Education Association’s foursome of Michael Freeman, Adam Phaiah, Scott Smilinich, and Billy Yuhas. Third place net went to Region 16 Education Association’s team of Brett Gagliardi, Ryan Kinne, Kathleen Tranquillo, and Dustin Waldron.
Winners of the long drive were Trevor Piecewicz (men’s) and East Hartford teacher Laura Corpora (women’s). Closest to the pin went to Ed Blumenthal on the 3rd hole, Manchester teacher Marco Pizzoferrato on the 6th hole, retired educator Don Hansen on the 11th hole, and Cheshire teacher Steve DeFalco on the 18th hole.
Thanks to our sponsors!
Hands Across the Green would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors, patrons, and other contributors. The title sponsor for this year’s event was Capital Wealth Advisors of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. Gold sponsors were Atlantic Wealth Advisors and the West Hartford Education Association. See the complete list of organizations, businesses, individuals, and local teachers’ associations who sponsored holes and contests and donated raffle prizes and auction items.
Donations to the Connecticut Education Foundation not only help children and educators in need but also support scholarships that enable new generations to enter the profession. Learn more.