Farese, Turk Honored For Giving Back
Volunteer: To perform or offer to perform a
service of one’s own free will.
Very few understand those words better
than John Farese, of West Sayville, N. Y., and
Natalie Turk, of Franklin, Tenn. They were
named recipients of the 2011 Presidents’ Leadership Award Wednesday by the USGA and the
AJGA for demonstrating leadership, character
and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program.
Farese founded a program called Operation Sports Equipment when he was spurred
by the threat of a local Little League franchise
folding due to lack of equipment. Additionally influenced by his grandfather’s struggle
as an orphan with no athletic opportunity
in his native Colombia, Farese’s efforts began close to home. When his own baseball
team was in the process of disposing of used
equipment to make room for new purchases,
Farese proposed his idea of donating the used
equipment to a league that was in desperate
need, and the program was born. Since that
season, Operation Sports Equipment has col-
lected, refurbished and donated approximately
10,000 pieces of athletic equipment throughout
Long Island and upstate New York, as well as
the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
“Although it has been a challenge to balance
my volunteer work with my school work and
playing sports, volunteering has been the most
rewarding experience of my life,” Farese said.
After losing her best friend to Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Turk, who had already
been involved with the AJGA’s Leadership Links
in 2009, worked to raise money for the family of
Elizabeth Patton and the scholarship fund that
was created after her death.
“I participate in Leadership Links, which
gave me the opportunity to raise money for one
of my best friend’s scholarship fund,” Turk said
in her application essay.
With the help of the USGA and AJGA, Turk
was able to raise $2,400 during the 2010 AJGA
Franklin Junior presented by Franklin
American Mortgage Company. At the
same tournament in 2009, she and five
others raised more than $6,000 for The
For earning the award, Farese and Turk will
receive four tickets to a U.S. Open in a year of
their choice, access to the USGA hospitality tent
during the U.S. Open, and an automatic entry into
the 2011 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of
the world’s most prestigious junior golf events. l