Volunteers Build the Next Generation

University of Delaware golfer Christina Carroll boasts one of the lowest scoring averages in program history. The junior electrical engineering major and First Tee – Delaware alumna is also the first African American woman to play golf for the Blue Hens. 

It’s clear Carroll has a bright future ahead of her. And for the last decade, she’s had a dedicated mentor behind her. First Tee – Delaware volunteer coach Karen Hart has been part of Carroll’s go-to team since Carroll was in 7th grade. 

“Karen is one of the most supportive and thoughtful people I know,” Carroll said. “She would take the time to take me to golf with her at her own home club Patriots glen. She would also encourage me to do my best every time I was around her. I am forever appreciative of the warm and caring person she is.” 

Hart is one of two incredible volunteers to be named George H.W. Bush Volunteer of the Year by First Tee. Together the two honorees have been volunteering with First Tee chapters for four decades.

PGA TOUR player Will Zalatoris presented the Volunteer of the Year awards during First Tee’s 25th anniversary celebration last month in Dallas, while he and FootJoy both donated $5,000 to each winner’s chapter.  

Despite health issues that kept her away from the ceremony, Hart’s commitment to First Tee – Delaware has never wavered, said program director Charma Bell. 

“Her grit has no quit! She says the First Tee motivates and inspires her to keep going and growing,” Bell said.  

Over the last 17 years, Hart has helped introduce three new program locations, recruit 20 volunteers and onboard more than a dozen schools to the First Tee School Program, Bell said. 

“Karen is a wonderful role model, who constantly shares her time, talents and treasures with our chapter. She exemplifies the true meaning of volunteerism and looks for nothing in return.” 

Like Hart, Deb DeNure has served as a chapter board member and mentor for participants. She’s been a dedicated volunteer at First Tee – South Central Wisconsin for more than two decades – having raised more than $1 million for the chapter. 

“Deb is truly someone who is essential to the livelihood of First Tee – South Central Wisconsin and is one of the most influential volunteers and heartbeat of the organization,” said executive director Ashlyn Mehlhaff. 

DeNure has spent more than 4,000 hours organizing fundraising events and tournaments on behalf of the chapter.  

“If there is a dream volunteer opportunity, working with First Tee – South-Central Wisconsin is it,” DeNure said. “Having the opportunity to help influence, grow, mentor and fundraise for a nonprofit organization that continues to shape the youth and citizens in our community brings me great joy.” 

First Tee’s network of 150 chapters relies on committed volunteers like DeNure and Hart to help build the next generation of Game Changers. On International Volunteer Day, we thank them for supporting First Tee!  

Learn more about volunteering at First Tee.