Editor’s Note: As part of its longstanding commitment to children, Johnson & Johnson is the first Legacy Partner of The First Tee. The First Tee provides educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Today, we shine a spotlight on several current and former Johnson & Johnson employees who have volunteered their time with The First Tee and have seen firsthand how its programs positively impact children.
It’s tee time and Johnson & Johnson retiree Alfred Mays is set to enjoy the hobby he’s picked up in retirement – just not with the foursome you might expect. As an assistant coach and mentor with The First Tee of Savannah in Georgia, Alfred’s time on the course is often spent with young people who are learning life skills and leadership through the game of golf.
“I clearly see kids who have much more confidence in school, out of school and in work environments, based on their experience interacting with adults in The First Tee,” says Alfred, who retired in 2006 after 37 years with Johnson & Johnson. “The kids grow by leaps and bounds when they see that somebody cares about them and shares what the values learned in golf might mean as they get older.”
With The First Tee, Alfred found an incredible opportunity to combine his passion for the game of golf with his professional experience.
“I had the skills to help First Tee leadership with setting goals, planning meetings, and helping to understand what leadership and teamwork look like,” says Alfred.
As a result, The First Tee of Savannah has grown in the last 5 years from touching a few hundred children to touching thousands through programs in-schools and on military bases in the area, not just on the golf course.
With 175 chapters across the U.S., The First Tee reaches young people at 900 golf courses, in more than 7,000 elementary schools and at more than 450 youth-serving locations through a new after-school program. Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has reached over 10.5 million participants in the U.S. and around the world. Johnson & Johnson has committed up to $10 million in matching contributions to The First Tee. It aims to reach 10 million more young people between 2011 and 2017.
Employees and retirees alike can find volunteer opportunities with their local chapter of The First Tee. Even non-golfers can help.
“Mentoring is something that particularly retirees can help with. These kids can use assistance in reading and learning labs, with homework and other parts of their lives,” says Alfred. “Mentoring goes beyond the golf course. We are making sure the kids know what their priorities are, and getting their school work done. If a child is struggling, we work to get them help. As an example, we often find teens summer work, employing the values they learned at The First Tee in their jobs.”
Johnson & Johnson employee Anne McNiel was in sixth grade when her parents enrolled her in The First Tee to help her adopt the program’s Nine Core Values. The values include courtesy, respect, judgment, responsibility, confidence, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and perseverance. Today, Anne gives back as a coach for The First Tee.
“It’s not a golf program, deep down it’s about giving kids a good foundation to use in all aspects of life,” says Anne.
Ed Benson, part of the Consumer Group Health Care Compliance organization, is a volunteer and board member with The First Tee of Greater Trenton in N.J.
“We recognize that golf is an ideal vehicle to encourage this type of child development because it emphasizes essential values,” says Ed, who got involved as a tangible way to give back to his local community.
For Alfred, involvement with The First Tee helps keep him connected beyond his retirement community and allows him to have a direct impact on the lives of children.
“The First Tee puts you into the lives of kids who didn’t have the level of means and resources that you had,” says Alfred.
Find out more about The First Tee online at www.thefirsttee.org.