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Beth Lokenvitz originally began volunteering at the John Deere Classic in the early 2000s to help her son fulfill requirements to become an Eagle Scout.
Nearly two decades later, the Moline native remains active at the local PGA Tour stop and for the last two years, she has also involved fellow employees and the Davenport company for which they work.
Earlier this month, Ms. Lokenvitz was back at her usual post working crowd control on Hole No. 11 during the JDC’s third round with her husband Darryl and their longtime friends on the Gallery Management Committee. The administrative analyst and 15 colleagues at BITCO Insurance Companies also performed the same task at Hole No. 12 sponsored by their employer.
“This just makes me feel good,” said Ms. Lokenvitz, who met at the JDC and married in 2008 her husband — now a 44-year JDC veteran volunteer. “This is a great way to give back to the community.”
Several local businesses share those sentiments. They not only offer sponsorship dollars annually to the 52-year-old golf tournament but they also devote volunteers to the JDC’s fundraising efforts on behalf of local charity.
Included is the tournament’s title sponsor John Deere, which also underwrites administrative costs for the Tour-standard Birdies for Charity program as well as provides a quarter of the 2,000-strong volunteer workforce through its employees and retirees.
“We were approached by the JDC for a corporate sponsorship, but volunteerism is at the core of our mission,” said Ursula Miniter, the member engagement specialist at Rock Island insurance company Royal Neighbors of America.
“So, we knew that not only do dollars matter, but the tournament requires a significant amount of volunteerism for it to be a success. So, it was a good fit for us to be able to help them with both people power and a monetary gift.”
The same for the 3M plant in Cordova, which devoted a dozen volunteers to this year’s JDC.
“3M’ers love to give back, and they love to donate not just their money, but their time and their expertise,” said Mike Laninga, 3M’s Global Communications Strategist based out of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. “We have so many in-house experts in so many different areas that can be such a value to a nonprofit. So, whether it’s Cordova or the Twin Cities, we try and find ways like this to give back.”
Included is the 3M Open, a PGA Champions Tour event, which tees off July 24-30. Backing the only Tour event in the state of Minnesota, he said, is a huge selling point for prospective customers and employees.
“For us, this is about improving the communities where we live, work and play,” Mr. Laninga said. “We like to participate in events with community involvement and try to just make it a better place to live for our employees and fellow neighbors.”
Ditto for Royal Neighbors. In addition to a donation to the Birdies for Charity bonus fund, the company devoted 18 employees to crowd control efforts at Hole No. 6.
“It was really nice just seeing everyone in the same shirts — and knowing they were all giving their time to make sure that this event is a success,” said Ms. Miniter, a first-time JDC volunteer.
“It’s easy to forget how economically empowering the tournament is because there’s a big hustle and bustle that is happening in the Quad Cities. For a ton of companies and organizations, they benefit from the Classic — all the restaurants, all the hotels, all the extra bodies shopping. So, it’s a fantastic event and we were happy to support it.”
The JDC’s estimated economic impact is more than $50 million. Plus, the sponsorship and volunteer contributions helped raise a record $13.9 million last year — which was split between nearly 500 local charities.
“It’s easy to get behind something that is doing this massive amount of good,” Ms. Miniter said.
Added Ms. Lokenvitz, “BITCO could get even more volunteers, but we just only have the one hole and it’s only a par-3 hole — so we don’t need as many volunteers as some other ones.”
The perks of volunteerism this year included free shows from Grammy Award-winning country music stars Blake Shelton and Darius Rucker in the JDC’s new “Concerts on the Course” series.
JDC volunteers are allowed to attend the tournament on the days they are not working. Volunteers also are treated to a free lunch and beverages during their work shifts, as well as a pre-tournament volunteer party and a round of golf at Deere Run after the event. “So, they take good care of you,” Ms. Lokenvitz said.
Their sponsoring companies did the same.
“I used to take vacation to go out and volunteer,” Ms. Lokenvitz said. “But for quite a few years now, BITCO has given us paid time off. It’s very nice they do that.”
Royal Neighbors and 3M followed suit.
“We were asking them to represent us,” Ms. Miniter said. “So, they were paid just like normal.
“Getting our employees involved like this, it’s strengthening our relationships with each other and also with the community.”
Ms. Lokenvitz agreed the businesses also benefited in other ways, too.
“We’re getting to know our co-workers better by doing something fun with them outside the office,” Ms. Lokenvitz added. “Some of them, this is how I met them because we’re in a different department and so I really wouldn’t know them otherwise.”
BITCO also had employees on some other JDC volunteer committees, too, for more than 20 volunteers from the company.
“My husband and I are pretty typical of most (JDC) volunteers — we look forward to this every year because it’s like a big reunion with friends,” Ms. Lokenvitz said.
“We used to do all of the days, but this year we only volunteered for two. Hopefully, others catch the bug, because while we’d like to, we can’t do this forever.”