How does working manual labor for seventeen days, twelve hours a day, picking up garbage, filling water coolers, laying out equipment, in the hot sun or the drizzling rain sound? Sound like volunteer work? For a group of high school students at the 2004 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, it was.
The stately grass courts, Stanford White architecture, and quaint wooden racquet displays were home to a crew of thirteen Landmark Volunteers students, ages 14-16, who lived, ate, and breathed at the historic home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But these volunteers were not sitting around watching the matches. Identifiable in their green t-shirts, they were lifting, toting, carrying, toiling, and greeting visitors, all in an effort to make the tournament come off without a hitch.
“These kids run around with smiles the whole time,” said Kat Anderson, Marketing Coordinator for the Hall of Fame. “They were willing to do whatever we asked.”
The Landmark Volunteers program coordinates high school students with two-week volunteer projects all around the United States between March and August, ranging from environmental conservation, historic preservation, and working with the disabled. Students come together from all over and are matched with two older group leaders. This was the third year of the collaboration with the Tennis Hall of Fame.
“We get a lot out of it,” said Landmark’s executive director, Ann Barrett, “and the kids do too.”
The students slept in a nearby church, where they ate breakfast and dinner. They prepared lunches to bring onsite to eat in between volunteer duties. During the seventeen days, they took a half-day off only twice, once to enjoy the fireworks on July 4. With rain interrupting and delaying play the first couple days of the tournament, the Landmark group had to be prepared at an instant to cover the grass with tarp, roll it off when the clouds cleared, and ready the courts for match play.
Sara Jarvi, Director of Public Relations for USA Tennis New England, has observed the Landmark volunteers every year at the tournament. “They are seamless and fit right in with all the other volunteers,” she said. “They take their responsibilities very seriously and have a lot of fun doing it.”
With so many choices of volunteer projects and sites, Landmark asks applicants to rank their selection—the Hall of Fame project is a popular option and fills quickly. Not surprisingly, many of the students are tennis players themselves, although some are learning about the sport for the first time.
“This was the only one I wanted to go on,” said Dale Beshore from Pennsylvania, who plays tennis. Lee Barkalow plays competitively in Carmel, California, and this summer was his second Landmark Volunteers trip. Other students were interested in sports marketing and management as a possible career.
Besides volunteering, the students learned a lot about being away from home, getting along with new people, sharing tight quarters, and being flexible. “It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth it,” said Stephanie Apostolico of Ossining, NY.
“Knowing you’re making this tournament possible makes all the difference,” said Danny Rosenberg of Long Island. “Other [Landmark] sites might not give as great a sense of accomplishment,” said Jesse Greenwald of New Jersey. Tournament officials and Hall of Fame staff kept reiterating how valuable the Landmark volunteers were to the tournament.
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