"Masters money" goes to work for Augusta community

By: Tom Campbell Email
By: Tom Campbell Email

April 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Over the past decade, the Augusta National Golf Club has donated over $11 million from the Masters to local charities in our area.

Here's just one example of how that "Masters money" is changing lives for the better.

You all know Tiger, or Phil, or Vijay, but names like Joanna, or Skeete, or Milton are probably completely new to you.

The golf fans who come to Augusta should cheer for them too.

They work at Lynndale, really just a few long tee shots from the National's front gate.

"We work with people who have intellectual and some physical challenges in their lives," explained executive director Peggy Smith. "They have a choice in what they want to do. We just offer them different choices."

In 2004, the National, through the Community Foundation of the CSRA, donated over $10,000 for a walking fitness trail at Lynndale. It's just a few feet from the greenhouse, where loving hands tend to plants that are on sale to the public.

"I like it very much, and I enjoy it every day," said greenhouse worker Skeete Freeman.

Not far away, other Lynndale workers have a thriving business: caning and repairing chairs.

"It makes me feel good on the inside," said Joanna Warren. "I feel confident. I really like it here. This is my family."

"It's nice that the Augusta National participates in the community by give back to people like us," Smith said.

Certainly, many thousands of you are here this week, staying at motels just like the Country Inn and Suites. But maybe you don't know this: the people who clean your room at the Country Inn are from Lynndale. They're folks like Milton Cooper, part of group who work as housekeepers...learning, and earning a paycheck.

Another $15,000 Masters grant helps pay their trainer, Karen Odom.

"It's a reward all to itself, just coming here," Odom said. "They're so happy to see you, and it's really just good work."

Over 200 people learn and work at Lynndale. It's served Augusta for over 50 years.

"It's just exciting to be a part of their lives," said Odom. "It's just special."

And thanks to golf, and the paying fans, it'll keep on being special.

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