More than 200 Connecticut teachers, supporters, and CEA staff hit the links at Glastonbury Hills Country Club on July 17 as part of CEA’s largest fundraiser of the year to benefit public school students in need.
The Connecticut Education Foundation’s (CEF) 23rd annual Hands Across the Green Golf Tournament is projected to raise $25,000 or more for The Children’s Fund, which provides eyeglasses, clothing, school supplies, and many other essentials for disadvantaged children throughout the state, as well as the Edward J. Boland Financial Assistance Fund, which helps teachers facing extraordinary hardships.
Throughout the year, teachers turn to CEF to request money for essential items for students or colleagues experiencing significant financial hardships.
“This tournament helps raise money to make that kind of assistance possible,” says CEA Vice President and CEF President Jeff Leake, who credits the players, sponsors, and volunteers for making the event a success on the course and for making sure that success reaches the classroom. “Working together, we make lives better for so many children.” Leake points out that every school district—even in the most affluent community—has children who lack some of the supports and resources they need. Teachers, he says, are in a unique position to know where those gaps exist and reach out to CEF for help.
Over the past 23 years, the tournament has raised nearly $700,000 for needy children in Connecticut’s public schools. CEF relies on teachers spreading the word about the tournament so that more people will play, volunteer, and support the fund.
“Everyone who plays or volunteers has a great time,” says Leake, “and we encourage all teachers and their friends to participate. It’s a day of fresh air and camaraderie, and the benefits extend to children throughout the state and throughout the year.”
“It’s one of the things I really look forward to,” said Ashford teacher Chris Busse, whose district has used the Children’s Fund to supply eyeglasses for students in need.
“You can’t beat it,” Region 14 teacher Adam Brutting agreed. “What a nice day out with friends.”
Suffield teacher Stephannie Holland, who has been teaching for 18 years, participated in the tournament for the first time this year. “This event is awesome,” she said. “We all want to support our students and help every child be the best he or she can be.”
2017 was the inaugural tournament for dozens of participants like Holland—from Hebron and Manchester to Salisbury and Putnam—while other teachers have teed off at Hands Across the Green since its inception. Retired teacher Bernie Schreiber logged his 23rd year with the tournament.
“Anytime you’re involved in charitable work, it’s a great thing,” said Avon teacher Jamaal Lee, returning for a second year and bringing seven colleagues with him, all participating for the very first time. One of his fellow teachers, Jeff DuBois, won closest to the pin on the 18th hole, with a distance of 17”.
Like Avon, Cheshire also turned out in force, with 15 teachers and a former student forming four out of the 49 teams in the tournament. Cheshire teacher John Perosino said, “It’s a great time and a great way to raise money for children in need.”
South Windsor Education Association President John Hackett noted that The Children’s Fund has helped students in his district facing unexpected hardships.
“We had a family who lost most of their possessions in a fire,” Hackett recalled. “The fund helped them get back on their feet.”
Tim Zeuschner, also from South Windsor, said the Boland Fund has come through for his fellow teachers as well, including one who suffered a debilitating injury and another coping with a chronic illness.
“The fund is so valuable. It has gotten some of our colleagues through catastrophic illnesses. These problems are not limited to lower socioeconomic areas; they affect people everywhere. These teachers could have lost their homes. Our students also benefited from assistive technologies that weren’t otherwise covered.”
“It’s a great course and a great cause, and there is a definitely a need for this fund,” Westbrook physical education teacher Brent Ali agreed. Ali and two other P.E. teachers from Westbrook, Ryan Percival and Tim Marshall—all veteran teachers and golfers—were grateful to their district for supporting their participation in the tournament.
“The course is beautiful, and CEF does a great job putting on this event,” said Marshall.
“We enjoy spending time out here with our colleagues from around the state,” Percival added.
“It’s good to be back,” said Southington Education Association President and longtime tournament participant Dan Hart, who returned last year after a hiatus. “It’s an awful lot of fun, and so many children need extra assistance, so our efforts go to a good cause.”
Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been the tournament’s Platinum Sponsor for the past 18 years, and Graystone Consulting/Morgan Stanley was the tournament’s Gold Sponsor.
Visit our gallery of photos from this year’s Hands Across the Green.