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How a grassroots effort to help frontline workers grew into a national movement

Photo illustration for ClubsHelp Foundation that benefits frontline workers

As cases of COVID-19 began to climb, and more and more people fell gravely ill, hospital staff in the hardest-hit areas worked around the clock to care for patients. In Morristown, New Jersey, a mother and her daughters wanted to do something for the local doctors, nurses, and support personnel who were putting in long hours saving lives while short on personal protective equipment (PPE).

The woman posed the question to a man named David Bachman, who is the general manager at Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown. He listened to her inquiry and helped her run with the idea.

Spring Brook began to collect donations of food, beverages, and PPE to deliver to Morristown Medical Center. When news of the club’s efforts to assist its community hospital surfaced in the media, another man, Rob Goulet, saw a bigger picture.

Expanding the reach

Goulet is CEO of Entertainment Sports Partners and manager of World Golf Hall of Famer and PGA Tour golfer Ernie Els. Goulet reached out to Bachman and suggested they work together to turn the local endeavor into a national campaign by engaging the golf community at large. That’s how ClubsHelp Foundation was born.

Goulet then reached out to Dallas-based Arcis Golf and asked the company to rally its clubs for the cause. “When Ernie Els’ manager called, we said, ‘Count us in,’” says Arcis Chief Marketing Officer Chris Crocker. “Every community wants to sustain their local hospital and first responders. We know that strength in numbers — clubs and their members’ networks — will make a meaningful impact to those bravely fighting the virus, with grit and grace, from the frontlines each and every day.”

With 61 public and private golf clubs in 13 states, Arcis was among the first golf management companies to join the ClubsHelp effort. And when ClubsHelp Foundation landed a spot on the national news, Crocker turned to Belo + Company, Arcis’ agency partner, to quickly design a website where interested parties could get information about the nascent movement.

Establishing a presence

Our web development team used existing assets to create clubshelp.org, complete with functionality to facilitate enrollment into the program, in just 48 hours. We worked through the night to be live before a national Fox & Friends news segment aired.

What typically would have taken a few weeks took less than two days, and Belo + Company did it at no cost — as a small way of doing something good for others during the coronavirus crisis. We continue to support the site as the foundation’s efforts evolve beyond the needs of people in a pandemic.

“This nonprofit, this foundation, was born out of COVID-19, but that’s not where it ends,” Crocker says. “We started with hospitals and frontline responders, but the mission has evolved as we’ve brought more people into the fold. We want this to have a life after COVID-19.”

Evolving the mission

Through the site, ClubsHelp instructs golf clubs and their members on how to get involved in their communities and activate others to identify local concerns and address them. It brings together volunteers with hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire departments, food banks, and others to provide critical resources by making it easy for groups to sign up and either request help or offer it.

In an incredibly short time, ClubsHelp has grown from one club’s desire to make a difference in its local community to a national movement. To date, nearly 400 clubs are delivering support to 170 organizations around the country.

Efforts will continue to evolve as the foundation moves from feeding frontline workers in a pandemic to feeding low-income, school-age children this summer and responding to natural disasters during what’s predicted to be another above-average hurricane season.

Jennifer Chininis
Jennifer Chininis
Jennifer Chininis is the vice president of inbound marketing at Belo + Company. She’s spent her career connecting audiences through content, both as an editor and a marketer. She lives to eat, travel, and teach the world about the superiority of the serial comma.