By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Children who live in stable homes often take birthday celebrations for granted. But, thankfully, when they become adults, some of them reflect on their childhoods and realize the importance of those events. And they realize that not all children are as fortunate as they once were.
Mike Albert is one of those people. The co-founder of the Putt for Presents annual golf tournament recalled, “While growing up in Westborough…I was privileged to always celebrate my birthday with my family and my friends.”
He was inspired – along with his wife, Melissa, and his childhood friend, Matt Travis, a physical education teacher at the Annie B. Fales School – to establish the tournament in 2011. On Friday, July 26, from 12 to 7 p.m. at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston, the ninth annual Putt for Presents Golf Tournament will be held. The proceeds will help Birthday Wishes, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that helps plan birthday parties for homeless children in the northeast.
The registration cost is $200 per player and $700 per foursome. In addition to supporting the Putt for Presents and Birthday Wishes shared mission to bring more self-esteem, dignity and joy to homeless children through birthday parties and presents, the fee includes other benefits. They include sponsor-provided gifts, a buffet, an additional round of golf on a different day and chances to win various prizes. Albert said that the goal of the tournament is “for all of our attendees to have a great time raising as much money as possible to support the wonderful cause of Birthday Wishes.”
After spending seven years throwing birthday parties at the Transitions Shelter in Devens, Albert saw firsthand the affect that the parties had on the kids and their families. However, he wanted to help more children, so he joined the board at Birthday Wishes and directed all of the tournament proceeds to the nonprofit. Since then, the funds raised by the tournament have provided birthday celebrations for more than 300 children each year. Birthday Wishes serves more than 200 shelters and transitional facilities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and New York.
Lisa Vasiloff, executive director and co-founder of Birthday Wishes, is grateful for the support Putt for Presents provides. And she appreciates that it raises awareness of the nonprofit and its work.
“For many years, Birthday Wishes had only one signature event, the CakeWalk, which is focused on families and kids helping kids; our board member, Mike Albert, incorporated the Putt for Presents tournament into our event schedule as a way to ensure that more people have an opportunity to support our important work, while doing something they love to do,” Vasiloff said. “It is a beautiful course and a really fun day. The summer is traditionally a slow time for donations as well as volunteers, but children have birthdays all year round, so this is an important event.”