9th Annual Tournament Raises More Than $175K to Create Independence

There was something special about HOPE’s 9th Annual Charity Golf & Tennis Classic. From the start, the cool coastal air and frenetic energy of its players set a positive tone for the day’s festivities that raised more than $175K to provide additional affordable, stable homes for people with developmental disabilities.  This goal could not have been accomplished without our sponsors, participants, and volunteers. Special recognition is in order for California Mentor who contributed to the event at the highest $15,000 - Titanium Level, and who continue to be an essential partner in our mission.

The theme of this year’s event was Creating Independence. Funds raised at the tournament will go directly to providing housing that empowers those who are most vulnerable in our society to become valuable, contributing members of their communities. HOPE believes that housing is foundational in life. When our residents are no longer forced to worry about where they will live and sleep, their energies and savings are freed up to focus on other essential aspects of their lives, like work, school, volunteering, or fostering relationships.

 Integrated Life team takes 1st Place. 

Integrated Life team takes 1st Place. 

Months of planning culminated in the day’s three pronged event that was once again emceed by ABC7’s Rob Fukuzaki. The tournament hosted golfers, tennis players and dinner guests from the greater Los Angeles region. Rob, having supported the HOPE tournament for the previous 8 years, was quick to point out why this event is so important. “We are all here today to help HOPE Create Independence in the lives of people with developmental disabilities,” he said. “What could be more important than that?”

After registration, attendees mingled with colleagues and chatted with players they had not seen since the previous year’s tournament. The locations of both competitions were at two of Palos Verdes Peninsula’s high-end sports venues—Peninsula Racquet Club and Ocean Trails at Trump National. Sweeping Pacific Ocean views accompanied players throughout the afternoon and into the evening’s dinner that was held at Vista Terrace, a beautiful Mediterranean Chateau style ballroom. “This is such a beautiful venue,” said Mike Bush of Brown & Brown of California. “It really is a classy setting for this event that just keeps getting better each year.”

During the day, both tournaments saw stiff completion. Kelly Evans grabbed the top prize in tennis by a three point margin, and perennial golf tournament contenders from Integrated Life (CJ Nelson, Phillip Avila, John Betham, and Joseph De Leon) held a decisive seven stroke lead to end the last round of golf.

 From left: Rob Fukuzaki, Kristin Martin, Deaka McClain

From left: Rob Fukuzaki, Kristin Martin, Deaka McClain

As the sun began to set and the afternoon’s competition came to a conclusion, the mood of participants was enthusiastic as they entered the Vista Terrace for the evening’s activities. “This event is always so well organized,” said Chris Hoffe, a golfer from So Cal Office Technologies who has participated in the past few tournaments. “I can’t wait for next year!”

Board President, Bob Irlen, opened the award ceremony and tournament dinner by reminding those in attendance about the importance of the day. “Nonprofits receive only so much support from the government for housing, and that’s why we need you—it is imperative that the private sector and individuals who care about our cause get involved to help in building the affordable housing we need.  And the need is great.  That’s why our annual Tournament plays such an important role in sustaining our mission.”

Nonprofits receive only so much support from the government for housing, and that’s why we need you— it is imperative that the private sector and individuals who care about our cause get involved to help in building the affordable housing we need. And the need is great.

Later in the ceremony our guest speaker and HOPE resident, Deaka McClain, shared her story with attendees about the challenges she faced as a young woman with cerebral palsy struggling to find permanent, affordable housing while attempting to also pursue her education. Deaka’s speech emphasized that because of HOPE, and the stability that comes along with her new home, she was not only able to obtain her bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s degree in public policy and administration. She now plans to use her education to pursue a career in public service. The room was left inspired, and her words led to a standing ovation by the moved audience.

 Mercedes Lowery honored at event. 

Mercedes Lowery honored at event. 

Another notable highlight from the evening was HOPE Executive Director, Kristin Marin, honoring two longtime advocates and tournament volunteers, Mercedes Lowery and Colleen Mock. During their time as Harbor Regional Center employees, they have given steadfast support to our cause, and their work has been integral in the organization’s expansive growth during the last 20 years. To thank them for their commitment to our mission, HOPE named two of its newest College to Career housing sites the Mercedes Lowery Hall and Colleen Mock Hall. This was a fitting tribute for such generous benefactors.

As the evening concluded, HOPE staff felt the warm glow of its mission being boosted by the goodwill and charitable spirit of its community. HOPE does not walk alone, but is part of a larger initiative to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are given the opportunities to experience independence and enjoy full, meaningful, and contributing lives.