Drops of friendship: Kent-Sussex Industries plans 30th annual golf tournament with new golf ball drop

Kent-Sussex Industries, a local business dedicated to helping local adults with disabilities empower themselves for a better tomorrow, has something new in store for their 30th annual golf tournament.

The event, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18, will feature a new golf ball drop with golf balls individually painted by their own participants in hopes of raising more money for adults with disabilities in the greater Milford area.

“The KSI golf tournament not only raises important dollars, but it also provides great visibility for the agency, a visual reminder. We call our fundraisers friendraisers, too, because people who believe in our mission participate. KSI strives to diversify our revenue sources and fundraisers help,” Director of Community Relations Alicia Hollis said.

This year, the organization that strives to advocate for adults with disabilities decided to tackle the annual golf tournament with a fresh look by doing what they do best and including their own participants in the action.

“We wanted a way to raise money for the golf tournament in advance of tournament day. I must say ‘Thank you’ to the Milford Chamber for the idea to do a ball drop. Their tournament includes one, and I’d never seen it before. Well the golf balls usually dropped are your typical white ball, the balls for KSI golf ball drop have all been personally decorated by the participants in KSI’s Life Enrichment program. I wanted it to be unique. And I wanted them to be included,” Ms. Hollis said. “Each person in the Life Enrichment program was given an opportunity to decorate the golf balls. Some decorated more than one while others chose different craft projects. I’d guess there were probably about 30–40 people who decorated.”

The idea itself took some prompting to get off the ground, she added, as direct support professional staff worked with participants to get the balls decorated.

“I think they loved working on the golf balls — some of them would tell me as I walked by that they decorated a golf ball for me. I loved the interaction as I thanked them for making our golf ball drop fun,” Ms. Hollis explained.

Sales of the balls have been even more exciting with some people purchasing pages of golf balls at $5 each instead of just one at a time — they expect the balls to sell out before the tournament begins.

“The prize is $300. Remember the goal was to raise funds in advance of the tournament. Three hundred golf balls at $5 each brought in $1,500 and after paying the winner $300, we’ve cleared $1,200 for the tournament before it’s even started,” she said excitedly. “Supporting KSI is the real objective. The golf ball drop, golf tournament is one way in which the community can support KSI, KSI’s mission. This tournament provides an active, engaged way for FRIENDS and supporters to provide financial help. It is also a way for people to introduce new people to the agency when they invite them to participate in the day.”

So far this year, KSI has served 334 participants and traveled 989,852 miles to and from all of their activities or assignments, which included 6,627 community integration trips and 4,392 volunteer trips. They also had 15 supported employment placements, 28 participants involved in job development and 47 participants in follow-along assignments.

“We provide experiences through employment, recreation and volunteering. I thought it was important that our program participants know about this part of KSI. Our participants see me going through our skill development center, and I stop and visit so I can learn about them. This helps me share their stories when I give tours to the community. This project was a way for me to interact again and for them to get to know me, to learn about the golf tournament, how it raises funds, how it raises awareness in the community.  The agency helps the community embrace abilities,” Ms. Hollis explained. “People should support KSI because the specific population we provide services to is a dynamic group that wants to be included in their community. There are many ways to support folks with disabilities — employment opportunities, assessments, field trip exploration sites, advocacy and financial.”

For more information on KSI or the upcoming golf tournament and ball drop, contact Ms. Hollis at 302-422-4014, ext. 3015.

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