Heart of Stark: 20 years of teeing up youth for success

Posted on September 27, 2022


In partnership with The Repository, every Monday, Stark Community Foundation highlights positive happenings in our community. Here’s to Good News Mondays!

For 20 years, First Tee – Canton has empowered kids to build character through a unique approach that seamlessly integrates the game of golf with mentorship and a life skills curriculum.  

As a partner of 41 different schools, 10 YMCA locations and various youth-serving organizations, the organization has significantly impacted thousands of lives of in our community — and has involved 5,000 young people in its First Tee Life Skills Program alone. 

“Our organization utilizes the game of golf as the platform to empower youth to realize their dreams and achieve their goals,” said Angela Palomba, executive director of First Tee – Canton. “For example, one of our former participants struggled in school and at home with her family relationships. The staff became her go-to team and her support system. Not only did the game of golf provide her a chance at a college education but she also utilized the values that she learned such as perseverance and resilience to graduate from college with a teaching degree.”

In recognition of this milestone year, and to thank the community for its support, First Tee gathered its families, supporters and volunteers for an anniversary celebration. The celebration included activities, food, facility tours and keynote speakers, all reflecting on the two decades devoted to creating game changers. 

“I am most proud of the fact that over our 20 years, First Tee has continually found ways to serve our community and families in the best way possible,” said Palomba. “We have embraced change and have experienced tremendous growth over the years. Our facility has improved to meet the needs of the families and youth that we are impacting.”

As for the future, First Tee plans to implement additional technology to support an updated curriculum and program delivery.  Plans are also in place to continue its facility improvements, complete the golf course expansion and explore additional partnership opportunities with schools, community centers and other organizations to best serve the youth in our community. 

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