The HV3 Foundation and First Tee – Greater Charlotte have partnered to launch a mentorship program designed to connect young participants with mentors that will help guide them in their future endeavors and build lasting relationships.
On Thursday, December 3, a mentor/mentee kickoff event was held at the First Tee – Greater Charlotte Learning Center in Pineville, NC. Thirty-two mentors and thirty-five mentees ages 13-17 gathered for an evening of fun and camaraderie.
“The greatest thing that happened to my life to help me navigate through everything was having someone that cared about me that wasn’t my mom or dad,” Harold Varner III said in his opening remarks. “I’ve just been super fortunate in my journey to have people help me.”
One of those people was Bill Williamson, who helped raise money so Varner could get his professional career under way. Instructor Bruce Sudderth was also important, Varner said, along with a group of his dad’s friends called the Par Busters.
“A kid will never forget how an older person spoke to them, how they affected them, how they cared for them. That idea became this program,” Varner said, the excitement evident in his voice.
“I think it’s important that no matter what I do in golf, if a kid or adult doesn’t know that someone cares about them or that I didn’t have an impact off the course, then I probably didn’t do my job.”
Varner serves on the First Tee – Greater Charlotte board and partnering with the program was ideal for finding deserving youth. “We want to grow great kids,” said Daniel Fogarty, Executive Director of First Tee – Greater Charlotte. “Parents tell us that the First Tee reinforces all the things they want their kids to know and be.”
Other mentorship programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters were consulted to learn best practices. Mentors and mentees will get together at least once each month. By providing mentors and mentees with opportunities and events to meet both online and offline, these new relationships will be able to build and flourish in different ways.
Four First Tee graduates are mentors and several First Tee staff also volunteered as mentors to continue in their free time what they are doing with kids in programming and take it to the next level. Maurice Crowe, who now works as the Program Coach & Volunteer Coordinator, started in First Tee when he was nine.
“The way that the First Tee impacted me, I didn’t really see it until I was older,” said Crowe. “What we’re teaching these kids will eventually click in their heads and planting that seed now is worth it.”
“The fact that Harold is taking time to connect with these kids is awesome,” Crowe continued. “It’s going to impact them in ways he doesn’t see yet.”
About First Tee – Greater Charlotte
First Tee – Greater Charlotte was established in 2003 to teach children life skills through the game of golf. The First Tee program is based on the First Tee Nine Core Values that are taught through the character education program: responsibility, respect, honesty, judgement, courtesy, integrity, confidence, perseverance, and sportsmanship.
About the HV3 Foundation
Launched in January 2019, the HV3 Foundation gives aid to programs that allow youth to access golf and other sports. This 501 (c)3 foundation is the brainchild of Harold Varner, III, who knows firsthand how prohibitive the cost of equipment, proper coaching, and access to courses can be in the game of golf. The mission of the HV3 Foundation is to provide affordable access to youth in sports.
“It’s not just a game; sometimes it’s a chance at a whole new life. Playing sports may lead to a new interest in school, career, mentor, college and beyond–it’s a great start for students of all ages and in all sports.” – Harold Varner, III