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The golf industry gives back to foster care organization

By |  April 29, 2021 0 Comments
The Weinerts’ four adopted children: (from left): Zayn (3), Kalli Grace (5), Kyra (9) and Sam (8). (Photo courtesy of the Weinert Family)

The Weinerts’ four adopted children: (from left): Zayn (3), Kalli Grace (5), Kyra (9) and Sam (8). (Photo courtesy of the Weinert Family)

When a family friend visited the Weinert household nearly a decade ago declaring that Tom and Paula Weinert would make great foster parents, Paula replied, “Yeah, if God would drop a baby in our lap.”

Four adoptions, dozens of foster children and one charitable organization later, Paula had no idea how true her words would come to be.

How it began

It all started in November 2012 when Paula’s brother called her asking if she’d be open to taking in then-six-week-old Kyra, Paula’s great-niece.

“We didn’t even know her name at the time,” recalls Tom Weinert, who is the vice president of sales at The Plant Food Co., based in Cranbury, N.J. “We knew that they had a baby, but we didn’t really know of her. When her brother called, my wife didn’t hesitate. She goes, ‘Well, I’m bringing home a baby.’”

The Weinerts also have four biological children; the youngest is now 20 and the oldest 31.

After taking Kyra in, the Weinerts registered for fostering classes, and within a week of becoming certified, the phone started ringing — and it hasn’t stopped since. Several of the children had come from abusive homes, and one child was born on the street, swaddled in rags his mother had bought from a Dollar General store to clean him up.

In the span of about nine-and-a-half years, close to 20 children have come through the Weinert home, some staying for a single night, others for up to 18 months and still others for good. The Weinerts’ four adopted children include Kyra (9), Sam (8), Kalli Grace (5) and Zayn (3).

“You hear so many horror stories about fostering, and I want to be a positive spot for kids, for parents, for people thinking about fostering,” Tom Weinert says. “We are supposed to be taking care of the people who are less fortunate. I’ve been very blessed to watch these kids grow. I think we’ve needed these kids more in our lives than they needed us in their life.”

Clothing donated to Bridge 127. (Photo courtesy of the Weinert Family)

Clothing donated to Bridge 127.  Bridge 127 was founded as a way to support foster children who often have nothing but a black garbage bag full of their clothing and belongings. (Photo courtesy of the Weinert Family)

Bridging the gap

As if fostering 20-plus children wasn’t enough, the Weinerts created a charitable organization in 2020 called Bridge 127, designed to help bridge the gap for foster youth and those aging out of foster care by providing them with resources that will ease transitions and improve their living conditions.

The name of the organization is inspired from a Bible verse, James 1:27, that reads, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to constantly work alongside and for orphans and widows in their affliction.”

The idea came to the Weinerts after so many of the children they’d fostered came to them with nothing but a black Hefty garbage bag full of their belongings. Fellow foster parents Jim and Jessica Peters and several youth caseworkers helped establish the organization.

“Most of the time, we take the stuff and throw it out, because it would be dirty and they’d be coming from really bad situations,” Tom Weinert says. “Bridge 127 is about just trying to step into their lives and make them feel special for a couple of moments.”

Golf is well known to be a charitable game, so it’s no surprise that when the efforts of the Weinerts with Bridge 127 became known in the industry, the industry wanted to offer a helping hand.

Enter Craig Currier, superintendent of Glen Oaks Club on Long Island, N.Y., and longtime friend of Tom.

“I’ve known Tom forever; he’s been in the fertilizer business forever. Every time I talk to him, he’s got a new kid,” Currier chuckles. “He was telling my wife and me over dinner one night about how they were starting to collect clothes for Bridge 127.”

Upon hearing about the organization, Currier called on a few friends and sought out the help and contributions of staff and members of his golf club.

“I haven’t even tapped the whole of it yet — even at the club here, there are so many people who would donate that stuff,” Currier says. “Everyone is always looking to help someone. It’s incredible how much stuff everyone comes up with. Everyone wants to see that go to a good cause.”

The Cody Classic, an annual tournament held in memorial of longtime superintendent Richard Spear, helps raise funds for charitable organizations. (photo Courtesy of Craig currier)

The Cody Classic, an annual tournament held in memorial of longtime superintendent Richard Spear, helps raise funds for charitable organizations. (Photo courtesy of Craig Currier)

In addition to pitching in carloads of clothing, Currier decided to donate the proceeds of The Cody Classic to Bridge 127. The annual tournament in memorial of longtime superintendent Richard Spear is named after Spear’s beloved labrador who died several months after Spear in a house fire. It’s put on in November with the help of the Met PGA Foundation in New York.

“Richard Spear was a longtime superintendent here on Long Island (at Piping Rock),” Currier says. “He was a good friend and my mentor who passed away unexpectedly (in 2016). We’ve been doing that and raising money every year since 2017. We’re just trying to find some good causes to keep his name and memory going.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament wasn’t held in 2020, but through donations, The Richard Spear Memorial Fund still managed to write a check of $15,000 to Bridge 127.

“It hits home when he tells you all the kids’ stories. If you don’t have any compassion for that, I’m not sure what to do,” Currier says. “It takes a special person to do what Tom does. I’m happy to help him in any way that I can, and it seems like all the guys in the golf community are too.”

Getting the word out

When asked about all the good he and his wife have brought to so many children, Tom Weinert shies away from taking credit for any of it — fostering kids, advocating for them, building a charitable organization on their behalf.

“My goal is to create awareness,” he says. “If we find just one more good home for a kid to land safely … it was all worth it.”

For more information on Bridge 127 and to learn how you can donate, visit Bridge127.org.

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