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UF Students host golf tournament to support GRACE Grows

Golfers putting. Golf balls flying. Golf carts zooming. University of Florida students working.

This was the scene at the Turkey Creek Golf Course on Friday.

UF students worked on a project this semester for GRACE Grows, a nonprofit organization that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity at GRACE Marketplace.

They spent three months planning a golf tournament.

Abigail Perret-Gentil, GRACE Grows executive director, said the organization is a small, volunteer-led grassroots organization.

“We work with some of the groups of people who are the most vulnerable and overlooked,” she said.

Perret-Gentil said she was impressed by the students when they first discussed the idea of collaborating.

“It was clear that there was a lot of backing,” she said. “A lot of strategy, a lot of will and organization.”

The project was for the department of agriculture education and communication’s course “Communication and Leadership in Groups and Teams.”

Alondra Arce is a student in the course. She said she and her classmates applied what they were learning to the event.

“We really wanted to take a theory to practice approach,” Arce said. “Learning all that we do in class and applying it to a real-world situation.”

One of her group’s tasks was choosing a golf course. They decided on Turkey Creek Golf Course in Alachua, Florida, which required each team to have four people and pay $240.

“We coordinated sign-ups and volunteering,” she said. “We were the liaison between the class and the golf course.”

The class recruited six teams. One of the teams was from GatorCare, an organization that provides employee wellness programs and access to cost efficient, world-class health care to UF employees.

The wellness manager, Mallory Rubek, said she thinks this tournament helps bring light to an important issue.

“It helps bring more awareness to food insecurity,” she said. “I think a lot of people aren’t aware of it because they don’t see it.”

The class raised money for the nonprofit by giving them the $240 paid by each team and getting sponsors including Satchel's Pizza, Slice Engineering, Study Edge, First Magnitude Brewing Co. and Blackadder Brewing Co..

Lauren Greenhaw, professor of the leadership course, said she is proud of her class.

“Between the sponsors and the teams, the team donated about $2,300 to the nonprofit,” she said.

Perret-Gentil said she is pleased with the team’s hard work.

“The amount of labor and thoughtfulness that has gone into this has really made it a success,” Perret-Gentil said.