4 CEA ADVISOR SUMMER 2019 FUNDRAISING Hundreds of Connecticut teachers, supporters, and CEA staff took part in the 25th annual Hands Across the Green Golf Tournament in Glastonbury on July 15. The event is the largest fundraiser of the Connecticut Education Foundation (CEF)—CEA’s charitable arm—to benefit public school students. “CEF’s Children’s Fund provides public school students across the state with clothing, eyeglasses, help with dental needs, and so much more,” said CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who serves as president of CEF. “CEF also awards scholarships to students pursuing teaching careers and helps teachers facing extraordinary hardships. Without the golf tournament, this philanthropic work would not be possible.” Throughout the year, teachers turn to CEF to request money for essential items for students or colleagues experiencing significant financial hardships, and since its inception, the Hands Across the Green golf tournament has raised approximately $700,000 toward these goals. Help when you need it “CEF really helps students in need, and our local Association is happy to support the foundation,” said Region 16 teacher Stephen Jerram. “I inquired once about help for a family whose child had trouble seeing the board in class and needed glasses. CEF responded right away with all the forms we needed and was ready and willing to lend a hand. I was overwhelmed by the support we were shown.” Retired Woodbridge teacher Jim Crawford, playing for the 15th year, said, “This event is well-run, and the cause is terrific. I know a child who benefited directly from the fund when he needed his glasses replaced. They were broken, and he continued wearing them taped together. The Children’s Fund made it possible for us to help him.” “Every year, we come out to support the Children’s Fund,” said Stonington Education Association President Michael Freeman. “We have used the fund to supply book bags, clothes, and other necessities for kids and families in our local. It’s always there when you need it.” Playing in a foursome with other Putnam teachers, Meaghan Wakely remarked, “This is the second year for our group, and we’re excited to come back out. We’re fans of all the great initiatives of the Connecticut Education Foundation and the way it supports our kids.” “It’s a fun way to support the Children’s Fund,” Marlborough teacher Jen Wall agreed. “We have families with various income levels and needs. Last year was the first year our local used the fund to help a family around the holidays.” Glastonbury special education teacher Matt Zabroski noted that although the community where he teaches is well-resourced, it is also home to many low-income families who struggle. “We had a student who was frustrated and exhibiting behavior in class because she couldn’t figure out her math problems. We realized she didn’t have a graphing calculator, which is required, and even though the district makes graphing calculators available for loan, there are never enough for all the students who need them. In every community, no matter what the socioeconomic level, there are children who need help.” Natalie Lynn Smith, who has taught both in Glastonbury and CREC schools, agreed. “I have utilized the fund for various students in the past, including the family of student who lost everything in a fire, as well as several students who could not afford graphing calculators. We’d get them when they were freshmen, and they would have their calculators for all four years and beyond, into college. I am passionate about kids, and sometimes they need our help.” Smith, who sets up the Hands Across the Green raffle table, has been volunteering for the golf tournament for decades and enjoys the camaraderie. And she’s in good company. Newcomers and regulars “I’ve been playing in Hands Across the Green for all of its 25 years,” said retired Avon teacher John Czepiel, adding that it’s an excellent way not only to support a charity close to teachers’ hearts but also to increase union engagement. “We started out in Avon with one foursome, and over the years it grew from four players to eight. This year we have a dozen players at the tournament.” Indeed, in addition to many faithful tournament regulars—some who have been playing for decades— this year saw a number of new players. First-time participant Diana Halas, who golfed with fellow Nonnewaug teachers, said, “It’s gorgeous out here. The conditions are great, and I’m planning to do it again.” Likewise for Westbrook’s Brian Dailey, who just logged his 13th tournament and noted, “Every year, while we’re at Hands Across the Green, we go ahead and book for the next year. It’s an excellent course, a lot of fun, and something we look forward to.” Region 16 first-timers Brett Gagliardi and Dustin Waldron credited veteran teachers and golfers for getting them out to Hands Across the Green this year. “I’ll never pass up an opportunity for a good day of golf,” Gagliardi said. Bonding time The Glastonbury Education Association, a sponsor of the first hole, had strong representation at the tournament, with three foursomes participating. “Our union representatives are strong, and they talk up this event and make sure to get the word out,” explained Glastonbury teacher Steve Nicastro. Nicastro, who has been participating in the tournament for the last five years, said he enjoys the time spent socializing with other teachers, including educators from other districts. Dave LeFevre, who teaches in neighboring Hebron and has played in the tournament for 15 years, says he has gotten family members as well as teachers from other districts to participate. This year, LeFevre’s foursome included his son and teacher friends from Barkhamsted and Madison. “It’s super fun,” said Ashford science teacher Dory Moore, who golfed with her special-education teacher husband, Chris, and their colleagues. “We love helping out and raising money for children in need. We feel very appreciated here.” Suffield Education Association Vice President Kevin Courchesne said, “Obviously the tournament helps kids, but also it brings us back together over the summer months. Our local president—Mark Janick— and I invite different members every year to come join us, including new building reps.” “It’s a good gig,” said retired Cheshire teacher John Williams. “We have a saying: It’s the best day of the year. We get to reconnect and bond with the people we work with all school year.” Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been the tournament’s platinum sponsor for the past 20 years, and Janney Capital Wealth Advisors was this year’s gold sponsor. 25TH ANNUAL HANDS ACROSS THE GREEN GOLF TOURNAMENT Day of fellowship, friendly competition raises funds for children in need Y E A R S 2019 HANDS ACROSS THE GREEN GOLF TOURNAMENT TO SUPPORT THE CHILDREN’S FUND CEA Secretary Stephanie Wanzer, CEA Vice President and CEF President Tom Nicholas, and CEA President Jeff Leake (pictured with his wife, Catherine)— celebrate the 25th annual Hands Across the Green golf tournament. Marlborough teacher David Wasserman gets a high-five from colleague Jen Wall after winning the putting contest sponsored by California Casualty. Teachers enjoy a day on the links to support needy childen.