‘Par’-fection! Orchid golf tourney came up aces for ELC

An ebullient crowd of Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club members gathered at the Beach Club to celebrate a job well done, reveling over their successful hosting of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship this past October. USGA tournament director Tracy Parsons and John Meyers, assistant manager of competitions, returned for the festivities.

Ted Hutton, chair of the Orchid Island host committee, noted that the event’s enormous success was a credit to the collaborative efforts of club members, club staff and the Environmental Learning Center, which had been chosen as the tournament’s charitable beneficiary.

The host committee had held the considerable size of the check a secret – contributing to the crowd’s undercurrent of energy and suspense.

Hutton said that when he first approached Molly Steinwald, ELC executive director, and then board chair Bill Clemens, he told them he couldn’t guarantee that they would receive any funds.

“We did budget for $25,000; that was really what we hoped to do. And I’m very pleased tonight to announce that we substantially exceeded that,” said Hutton, before presenting Steinwald and current ELC board chair Don Barr with a check for a whopping $145,270.

“Ninety percent of the money that we had to raise came from our families. The extreme generosity of the Orchid members never ceases to amaze me. What you did was extraordinarily special, and I think we can all take great pride in what you’ve done,” said Hutton.

Orchid Island had taken a big swing and, in golfer’s lingo, made a birdie on every hole. Their success, in turn, will make an enormous impact on the ELC goal of encouraging everyone to become active stewards of the environment.

The cause is one that is near and dear to the members of Orchid Island Club, which is recognized as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Not only is the ELC a neighbor, it also shares a like-minded concern for the health of the Indian River Lagoon.

As attendees chatted over cocktails and a poolside barbecue, Steinwald asked how many had visited, volunteered or served on the ELC board. She garnered an affirmative from the vast majority.

“We are a 64-acre island-based nature center in the lovely Indian River Lagoon and we have a lot going on,” said Steinwald, visibly moved by their generosity. “We are extremely excited about fulfilling a vision where all people live in harmony with the natural world. We’re able to continue to strive toward that mission by your support and we’re deeply, deeply grateful.”

“Our plan for the future is a game-changer for this community,” Barr added. “We have a great hospital that’s getting better, we have an art museum, we have a theater and now, at the other end of the island, we’re going to have a nature center that is going to really wow people. We’re going to advocate for the lagoon and partner with other people, making things happen at the state, local and federal level to protect it.”

“We are the strongest we’ve been in a very long time,” said Steinwald. “Things have really blossomed, and this type of thing [pointing to the sizable check] really shows that’s the case. I’ve been here just over four years and I am more confident and more hopeful and more amazed by the current organization and where we are, and its future vision.”

For more information, visit orchidislandgolfandbeachclub.com or discoverelc.com.

Photos by: Stephanie LaBaff
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