The neighborhood of Kensington is one filled with hope for a better future. While jobs may be few and far between in this section of Philadelphia, its citizens still believe in a better tomorrow.
One organization reaching out to its residents in order to fulfill this goal is Impact Services Inc., which has done its best to lend a helping hand by placing one of their seven branches in this section.
On any given morning or afternoon, there is a group of people outside of Impact’s Kensington location, which is snuggled in comfortably on Allegheny Avenue and Emerald Street amongst well kept shrubbery and right next to a Salvation Army.
Impact’s Veteran Services Department focuses on supporting veterans in the area that have ended up requiring assistance. Among the offered services are housing, job placement, and general outreach.
While Impact’s veteran services offer a great deal of support for the older community, the organization also takes a great deal of time out to support the youths of Philadelphia. Their program The First Tee focuses on building character in kids through the game of golf.
The program has secured various practice spaces all over the city of Philadelphia. The First Tee may be a program which teaches golf, but many would say it is not solely about golf.
“Even if you’re not the best golfer, it’s not all about golf,” said participant Victoria Wajda (below). “You can make friends and the instructors help you set goals.”
Wajda, was inspired to join when she watched the club in action.
“I saw how the kids connected with this coaches,” Wajda said. “They had a bond and I wanted to be a part of.”
Wajda’s uncle also took part in The First Tee program and he assisted her in getting involved.
“My favorite part of being with The First Tee is that I can make friends and have that special connection with each of my coaches,” Wajda said.
David Zimmaro, The First Tee’s PGA director of instruction and site director, got involved with the program when he interned through the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) program at Penn State. Zimmaro interned under Dave Smith, who had just recently became director at our Walnut Lane location, when he was given the opportunity to work for The First Tee.
“I’ve been on board for six plus years now and it has been amazing,” Zimmaro said. “Favorite thing, hands down, watching the kids progress from year to year. Watching them start off sometimes not even knowing what the sport is and then watching them become masters of their own golf game is certainly a great thing to watch.”
Zimmaro added that it is exciting to see the kids they teach utilizing what they have learned at The First Tee.
“Watching them using and expressing the life skills and the core values that we teach is really, really cool to see,” Zimmaro said.
Impact’s involvement with this program and their own program to help veterans continue to instill hope and trust in those both young and old.
“If I have a problem, they’ll help me just as much as my family,” Wajda said. “It’s like having a second family.”
– Photos, video and text by Sabrina Iglesias and Clayton Russell
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