Golf event will benefit local arts programs

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  • | 8:24 a.m. November 6, 2014
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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As part of its series of charitable events to benefit the development of arts programs throughout West Orange, the HAPCO Music Foundation will host its annual Kenneth R. Tolbert Golf Classic for the Arts at 8 a.m. this Saturday, Nov. 8, at Stoneybrook West Golf Club in Winter Garden.

The tournament is named after former high-school band director and chairman of HAPCO Kenneth R. Tolbert, a leading local proponent of the arts.

Tolbert encouraged Joseph McMullen, Oakland commissioner and CEO of HAPCO, to attend Florida A&M, going as far as to assure McMullen of his assistance if financial aid did not come through, McMullen said.

That spirit is what drives HAPCO, which has a primary goal to provide scholarships for deserving students to attend any music-related college or university program of their choice in the country.

“We try to give kids greater access to arts with festivals and camps, and then try to raise funds to eliminate the financial barrier,” McMullen said.

Musical education helps not only students receiving it, but the community at large through deeper cultural immersion, McMullen said.

“If you look at why people choose places to live, of course you want safety and amenities, education, low crime rate, but you want quality of life, including access for activities for people to participate in,” he said. “Communities that have programs that target all groups, regardless of age or socioeconomic status, will thrive with people wanting to come there. If you have events they can plug into and be part of, the quality of life increases. It gives them a position of ownership that this is their community. Any community wants to give programs citizens have access to, to make them feel it’s a place they want to be, because you want them to live there for generations.”

Keeping people in the area through these measures trickles to the economy, as well, he said. 

“If people stay in that area, they keep the area thriving by going to local businesses,” McMullen said. “I’ve seen how West Orange has changed since 2002; people want to come to the area on a regular basis for entertainment, recreation, eating and being able to do that at leisure without the hustle and bustle of a main street. You don’t have to travel so far to get the amenities as major markets.”

The foundation is on a longterm journey to support programs such as the Oakland Avenue Charter School, Ocoee High School’s band and Garden Music School private lessons among low-income families.

“The music program (at these schools) has already started, but what I’m trying to do is make it a full band program,” McMullen said. “It’s in its infancy phases. It’s trying to have instrumental classes and a full choir and band program eventually. We’re trying to provide resources for band programs—supplies and instruments. They always need repairs and the instruments themselves.”

At this tournament, students from these programs will be on hand, perhaps even including a performance from Ocoee High School’s band, McMullen said.

“We want to make sure the audience sees who they’ll be benefiting with their philanthropy as part of our event,” he said.

Mike Mullen, an Oakland resident on HAPCO’s board of directors, hatched plans for this event as his brainchild about five years ago. He has tried to expand the foundation and its events to include all art forms.

“I came aboard (HAPCO) maybe six or seven years ago,” Mullen said. “It’s kind of been in a dormant stage. This is our third year of the golf tournament, and it’s just not getting off the ground. It’s a pretty standard golf tournament. We’re trying to expand it and make it different, but it’s tough with about 40 players.”

Mullen said part of the problem with golfer turnout was the lack of time HAPCO has been around, but all of the other charitable events have been successful, especially HAPCO’s wine tasting.

“We’re the new charity on the block in West Orange, and people want to help us, but we’re getting people who have their dollars tied elsewhere,” he said. “We are a unique organization in what we are supporting and how we’re going about it: There’s no one else I know of who’s showing these underprivileged children they can advance themselves through the arts. The old saying goes, ‘If I can affect one kid, that would be great,’ and more than 50% of the entry fee goes directly to HAPCO. We have very few administrative costs. That’s rare for charities these days. Our percentages are as high as anybody, of money that goes directly to the charity.”

The driving range will be available for warmups, and coffee should be available, Mullen said.

“A good lunch worth $25 alone and an awards ceremony will follow,” he said. “It should be closed up by 2 so folks can go and enjoy the Ocoee Founders’ Day celebration and support two fantastic events.”

Registration for the event remains underway at press time, at a cost of $100 for single players, with a small discount for foursomes.

“We’ll always take more names, teams, sponsorships and donations,” McMullen said. “We’re just asking people with an affinity for the arts to help. They can volunteer, help with events or donate financially. We want them to help however they feel they can, to keep our kids engaged in their musical education.”

For more on the HAPCO Musical Foundation and its other charitable events throughout the year, visit


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