The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced its 2022 Annual Awards of Excellence winners. Mill Creek Golf Courses’ PGA Hope Program placed third in the sports category of the competition. The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio. “Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”
In 2021, Mill Creek MetroParks launched one (1) of only two (2) PGA Hope Programs in the State of Ohio in conjunction with the Northern Ohio PGA Section of Cleveland. The program had maximum attendance of 24 veterans with four (4) veterans shadowing the event to see how it worked. The program at Mill Creek included three (3) PGA Professionals from Mill Creek along with eight (8) veteran volunteers. In addition to the veteran volunteers, Mill Creek partnered with the local Youngstown State University Women’s golf team to assist with the program and to promote the military veterans of the community. In 2022, the second year, the program had maximum attendance and was filled in less than a week after the event posted. The 2022 program took place on October 6 at Mill Creek Golf Course. Currently, Mill Creek has expanded the field to 36 veterans with a waiting list of 16 veterans due to the programs high demand.
The community-based event held at Mill Creek is a recreational opportunity for all active, non-active, and retired military members. The emphasis of the program to promote health and mental wellness through the sport of golf aligns with the MetroParks mission. Military divisions represented at Mill Creek MetroParks included the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard, Navy, and Space Force. All participating veterans receive complimentary golf instruction by PGA Professional staff at Mill Creek, PGA Hope Hat, PGA Hope Camo t-shirt, PGA Hope dog tag, complimentary golf, complimentary lunch each day, complimentary trolley rides in the park, contest prizes, and a commemorative challenge coin. All at no cost to the military veteran participants due to all programs funded by PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, allowing the cost of programming to be free to all veterans of every background.
“We are thrilled to be recognized for the work the Golf & Recreation Department is doing to honor our local veterans and all they have sacrificed for our country,” says Aaron Young, Executive Director.
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on January 31, 2023 in Sandusky, Ohio.