Nearly 200 CEA members and public education supporters, including Governor Ned Lamont, turned out at Glastonbury Hills Country Club for a day on the links at the 27th annual Hands Across the Green golf tournament to benefit the Connecticut Education Foundation (CEF), CEA’s charitable arm. For years, CEF’s various funds have provided the basics for children in need, scholarships for students pursuing teaching careers, gifts that brighten the holidays for families experiencing hardships, and emergency assistance for educators facing catastrophic illness or other emergencies.
“Looking out at all our golfers and volunteers today, first and foremost I’m so excited to see our teachers getting a beautiful day to enjoy some social time outdoors together after this very stressful, exhausting school year,” said CEF President Joslyn DeLancey. “The weather knew that it needed to take care of teachers today, because they really did need a moment to relax in the sun.”
DeLancey notes that while energy and spirits are always high at the summer fundraiser, players never lose sight of the mission behind it.
“Our educators know that a lot of our students face barriers to education, and some don’t have the essentials they need to feel safe and comfortable in the classroom, like proper clothing, winter coats, eyeglasses, or hearing aids. Teachers never hesitate to dip into their own pockets to remove those barriers, and CEF’s Children’s Fund covers those expenditures and makes sure that when students are in our classrooms they can learn without unnecessary barriers and setbacks.”
DeLancey added, “Along with our members, we also have some really wonderful sponsors who have invested in what CEF supports—which is our public school students and our teachers.”
Capital Wealth Advisors of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC was the tournament’s title sponsor, and the gold sponsor was the West Hartford Education Association (WHEA).
In the swing of it
“Every time we’ve asked CEF for financial assistance to help our students, they have come through,” McKeown said. “The process is easy, and we appreciate it.”
“It’s a good cause that supports our students and colleagues throughout the state,” said New London Education Association President Rich Baez. “Coming from a high-needs district, we know how important this foundation is. We also just really enjoy a good game of golf and the chance to see educators from all over the state.”
Andrew Grasso, one of a foursome of Bridgeport teachers, pointed out, “Our students have benefited greatly from
the Children’s Fund, and our local president feels very strongly about that. This event supports many of the children in Bridgeport’s schools, and we’re here to give back.”
“This tournament helps kids from so many districts,” Redding teacher Ron Farina emphasized. “We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and our local union supports our participation.”
“It’s great fun,” colleague Dave Harrison added.
Another longtime supporter, Stonington Education Association President Michael Freeman said, “Our local
has been participating for many, many years, not only in the golf tournament but also in the annual Holiday Bear gift drive. CEF is always here for students and teachers across the state, and we’re here to make sure they can continue to do that good work.”
Good company, good cause
“People think of ours as an affluent shoreline town, but we’re also seeing increasing numbers of students and families who need help,” noted Westbrook Middle School physical education teacher Tim Marshall, who was joined by several of his colleagues. “CEF does a really good job raising funds so that we can support those students.”
Cheshire social studies teacher John Fusari, who played in the afternoon with the science, math, and English language arts teachers on his middle school team, said, “We’ve been coming out here for at least 20 years, and it’s a good time with colleagues. We’re always behind our classroom doors and don’t get to do this kind of thing often. It’s about camaraderie, and of course, it’s about the kids.”
“I love coming out to the CEF Hands Across the Green golf tournament,” said Ashford School second-grade teacher Michael Young. “It’s the most fun you can have raising money for the best cause—and it’s been awesome to be able to use the money, as I did in my particular case, to help a student get eyeglasses who needed them badly.”
“Southington’s been playing this tournament for more years than I can remember,” said high school history teacher Dan Hart, “and we’re here to carry on that tradition. Educators are about kids, and that’s what this tournament is all about.”
Aspiring educators joined in the fun too. Sara Azukas, who will be starting her first year as an elementary school teacher in Region 15, said, “Joslyn DeLancey spoke to us at the NEA Representative Assembly earlier this month and encouraged us to come out. I’ve never played a round of golf, but this is a lot of fun.”
Fellow aspiring educator Katie Cummings, a Central Connecticut State University senior who plans to pursue a career in elementary education, added, “Joslyn invited us to come out and connect with active teachers outside the classroom, and this is a great setting and a perfect opportunity for us
to do just that.”
Governor adds his support
Calling teaching “the most important job in America,” Governor Lamont joined CEA members at the annual golf outing and offered his praise and encouragement for teachers both in terms of their charitable work on behalf of CEF as well as on behalf of students in the classroom.
“I just want to say on a personal note, and CEA President Kate Dias knows this better than anybody, how much I appreciate what you guys did these last couple of years. You did our state proud, and I want to thank you for that. You showed up when it was tough, when we were talking about ventilation, when we were talking about masks, and we got through it safely. CEA and our teachers put the kids first. We have the best teachers and the best schools in the country. Some of the boards of ed and parents have been chipping away on the sidelines, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a hundred times: Just let our teachers teach. That is what I mean to do as long as I’m your governor. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, because I know how tough this was.”