Southern Ohio PGA HOPECristina Hidalgo, Southern Ohio PGA Works Fellow
PGA HOPE Southern Ohio is, and always will be my favorite program to work on throughout my fellowship. I jumped right in by managing the PGA HOPE Play Days; little did I know how it would change my whole perspective of the game of golf. PGA HOPE is the flagship military program funded by PGA REACH Southern Ohio. It is designed to introduce golf to Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel in hopes of enhancing their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. The Southern Ohio PGA proudly supports over 250 veterans through four free-of-charge PGA HOPE Chapters. The SOPGA introduced an expansion of the SOPGA HOPE program in 2022 to include PGA HOPE Play Days providing our graduates with the opportunity to take their skills to the course. This new event allowed them to enjoy a round of golf while meeting new players and building a community in which they felt safe developing new relationships. Competitive golf was all I knew before my Fellowship, as I have been competing since I was eight years old. PGA HOPE taught me many different things, but it also gave me a different perspective on what golf can truly be. The game of golf does not necessarily have to be a competition all the time; it can also be used as a powerful tool to change someone’s life, and that is the real beauty of this game. I am so grateful for this beautiful experience, and I look forward to seeing this program grow and impact as many lives as possible.
My favorite part of PGA HOPE Southern Ohio was meeting the many Veterans from different backgrounds. It was so interesting to have a conversation with them and listen to all the stories they had to share. I was blessed to receive a challenge coin from them during our last PGA HOPE Play Day. Challenge coins serve as a token of appreciation, and I will keep this one forever. One skill I will take away from the PGA HOPE Program is communicating positively. During the PGA HOPE Play Days, we needed to create a safe and welcoming environment for the Veterans. I always ensured I was attentive, providing active listening and clear communication.