Dual Firsts "Fore" REACH Health FoundationBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, August 17, 2006
Williamstown - Aug. 17 was a big day for the REACH Community Health Foundation as one fundraising event broke new ground on two organization fronts.
|Steepleview Realty foursome at an Aug. 17 REACH women's open golf tournament|
The REACH Women's Open Golf Tournament marked the first women's golf tournament sponsored by REACH or its' parent company, Northern Berkshire Healthcare, and also launched a premiere REACH golf event. Officials of non-profit health foundation plan to make the women's golf tournament an annual fundraiser, said REACH breast health program coordinator Polly Macpherson, who organized the event with Bonnie Clark.
And that's not all that Macpherson wants to see continue; the tournament linked the Northern Berkshire community health care community with the regional arts community and Macpherson said she is optimistic that an artistic aspect can be included in every subsequent golf tournament.
Feltmaker Jane Herman created a hand-designed purse as a tournament prize.
Feltmakers with the Northeast Feltmakers Guild designed and made felt purses as tournament prizes. There were 13 feltmakers who created and donated 15 unique purses to the event, said Macpherson and feltmaker Jane Herman, who lives at the Eclipse Mill in North Adams.
Macpherson is a former Vermont Arts Exchange employee who is friendly with exchange artist Diane Sullivan. Sullivan, a ceramic artist, lives at the Eclipse Mill and is acquainted with Herman.
Macpherson shared a long-held desire to connect the local health community with the area's bounty of artists with Sullivan and Sullivan broached the idea with Herman. Herman was enthusiastic about the idea, said Macpherson, and agreed to ask guild members to create purses for the tournament.
Not only did specific artists agree to make and donate original purses to the event, they also penned brief essays that explained their beliefs about connections between the arts and healing, Macpherson said.
Generating Annual Buzz
"Women seem to get the connection and this intrigued the golfers," Macpherson said while at the Waubeeka golf course hosted tournament.
"We want to connect art and artists with the golf tournament every year," Macpherson said. "We'd like to focus on something different each year, one year maybe ceramic teapots, another year maybe scarves, or baskets...we ultimately want the buzz around town to be 'oh, it's the REACH women's golf tournament, I wonder what they'll be doing this year.' We really want to get the arts community involved with the health community."
The purses require about 10 to 15 hours of work from start to finish, Herman said. Despite the time commitment, the artists who agreed to collaborate with the tournament were excited about the project.
"The response was overwhelming," Herman said during an interview.
Herman described the process she used to create her original purse design. The process is called "nuno," or "laminated felt" and required Herman to manipulate wool fibers into a light gauzy fabric to create the "felt." She printed colors with a hydraulic press available at the Contemporary Artists Center, which she used to press fabric paint into the material.
Tournament tee time was 9 a.m. and 13 foursomes completed the 18-hole tournament. Included were teams from Steepleview Realty, event sponsor Storey Publishing, the Adams Co-operative Bank, the Hoosac Bank, Berkshire Direct, Hartford Insurance, the North Adams Regional Hospital Employees group, and the Women's Exchange. The Women's Exchange also hosted a post-tournament luncheon held at the Waubeeka dining room.
Niralee Shah, Anne Hyers, and Komal Shah volunteered at a mid-course lemonade stand.
Oasis On The Green
But the golfers weren't without sustenance while out on the course; a trio of young volunteers set up and staffed a free lemonade stand on the green. Drury High School student Niralee Shah, 16, and college-bound freshmen Anne Hyers, 18, and Komal Shah, 18, spent about five hours at an oasis for the teams as they passed. All three volunteers are members of the Adams-based Berkshire Dance Theater and Hyers is a hospital volunteer. Priti Shah, Komal and Niralee Shah's mother, works at NARH.
Neither Niralee nor Komal Shah play golf, nor does Hyers, the girls said.
"It looks peaceful and relaxing," said Hyers.
The game also appeared to build up an appetite; as the golfers approached the lemonade and baked zucchini or banana bread table, most stopped for a snack.
"They are all saying they are hungry," said Komal Shah.
And while the game may have seemed a tranquil morning social event for the participants, it also appeared to involve considerable skill, noted Niraleee Shah.
"I think I'll just stick to miniature golf," she said.
A very preliminary estimate put the tournament funds at over $6,000. Foursomes donated $300 to play in the tournament and local supporters were invited to sponsor a tee with a $100 contribution. Individual monetary donations of the donor's choice were also accepted.
Golfers Angela Rousseau and Cindy Poulin
The REACH Community Health Foundation's mission is "to improve the health and wellness of the Northern Berkshire Community through education, outreach,programming and advocacy in collaboration with community members and organizations," according to information made available by the non-profit organization.
REACH foundation programs include REACH for Breast Health, Get Fit!, Horizon, a Men's Health Partnership, North Star community health report, Northern Berkshire Healthy Smiles, and a Quitters Are Winners tobacco cessation program.
REACH Breast Health Program Coordinator Polly Macpherson organized the golf tournament with Bonnie Clark.
Additional information about the REACH Community health Foundation is available by calling 413-664-5326.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367.