Many of you have either heard or read about the community-oriented golf outing that Whirlpool Corporation hosts in August each year. This event started in 2003. Having retired from Whirlpool after 39 years, and being the Chairman of the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation (LEF), I have a very unique perspective on this event. After reading this, I hope you have a greater appreciation for the significant favorable financial impact the outing has on our local community, several non-profit organizations including the LEF, and our Lakeshore students.
Initially, the outing was focused on creating a large charitable donation for the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor (BGC-BH). Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Chairman and CEO at the time, led the critical thinking devising a plan to raise funds for use at the BGC-BH. An invitation was sent to Whirlpool’s major suppliers of services, parts, and components. They were invited to come to the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area for a long weekend and play three challenging golf courses…Lost Dunes, Point of Woods, and Harbor Shores. Along with the golf came the dining each evening and a large buffet on Monday night (the last night) at Harbor Shores. Supporting participants were made aware that the proceeds would be presented to local nonprofits.
For the supplier participants there is great golf, gifts, dining, exposure to Whirlpool leadership, and rubbing shoulders with fellow suppliers. The supplier cost to participate in this event is fairly steep. In the end, however, everyone realized that this is a great cause, more recently netting approximately $2,500,000 for distribution to our local non-profits. As mentioned, BGC-BH was the initial recipient of the donation. This provided for the development of their improved facilities and programming. The generation of $2,500,000 certainly did not occur the first year but the annual net figure has continued to grow over the 19 annual outings to this incredible amount.
As the success of the August outing grew, Whirlpool continued to support the BGC-BH but then brought in the First Tee as a charitable recipient. Then, in 2014 the three local school foundations (St.Joseph, Benton Harbor, and Lakeshore) were also included in the funds distribution. Our first check in 2014 was $150,000 and this year we were blown away with a check for $250,000! It is great to receive this check from Whirlpool on behalf of the LEF knowing what this amount does for our fundraising. In a nutshell, a sizable donation like this enables us to speed up the implementation of projects and gives us the capability to think about bigger projects, which create greater opportunities for educational excellence throughout the Lakeshore School District.
On a personal note, as a Whirlpool retiree, I take a lot of pride in my former employer supporting the local community, staff and students in such a grand manner. In this day and age, public corporations are under great pressure for earnings improvement but even with that burden, Whirlpool has been able to provide this generous funding. We live in a better community as a result of Whirlpool Corporation providing resources to help develop our students and staff. We are continually grateful for their support within our community.
Now….you know the rest of the story!
Chairman, Lakeshore Excellence Foundation