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Golf tournament benefits shelter for homeless women, children
Maryann Bowbliss, left, gives golfer Scott Garrett his poker card Thursday morning at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course during the annual Medical Center Foundation Open golf tournament. Ann Hart also helps golfers Bryan Johnson and Dave Starks get their cards, which allowed them to compete in the Par Three Poker game during the tourney.

Golfers played for more than just the love of the game Thursday at Chicopee Woods Golf Course.

While enjoying beautiful weather and friendly competition, 200 golfers helped homeless women and children get back on their feet at the 21st annual Medical Center Foundation Open golf tournament.

This year’s tournament benefited My Sister’s Place, a homeless shelter for women and their children.

Thanks to the support of more than 200 sponsors, all of the proceeds were able to go to the mission. Nearly 100 volunteers also gave their time to help with the event.

“It’s a community tournament and our community has been really gracious,” said Nancy Colston, executive director of the Medical Center Foundation.

Proceeds from the tournament every year benefit health-related organizations in the area. In the last 16 years, the foundation has raised $2.2 million.

The foundation presented a check for $217,101 at the 19th-hole reception after the tournament.

“The community has been very generous, but at the rate we were going it would have taken us years to raise the amount of money this tournament has raised for us,” said Brandee Thomas, managing director of My Sister’s Place.

The mission first opened its doors in 2000 and has operated out of an 800-square-foot, three-bedroom house on Davis Street. Thomas said the shelter has to turn away hundreds of women every year because it simply lacked the space.

The mission can serve 10 guests at a time who typically stay in the shelter for less than three months.

“We ran out of space years ago. We’re literally on top of each other in here,” Thomas said.

In 2010, after years of fundraising, the mission was able to purchase an apartment building on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The proceeds from the golf tournament will pay for renovations on the property that will allow the mission to help more women and children each year.

Thomas said the mission hopes to begin renovating the apartments early next year and complete the project in a year.

She said the mission is very excited about beginning renovations.

“This is just what we needed. We definitely couldn’t have done it without them,” Thomas said.

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