By Chris Porter
Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) is known around the city for its impact on urban youth through basketball and how sports are used to enrich children’s lives spiritually, relationally and educationally. What most may not know is how MAM is making strides in the “going green” movement through golf and eBay at the MAM Park Golf Course.
Vince Alfonso Jr., Director of MAM’s golf program, helped create an eBay store for MAM to resell donated golf equipment to raise money for various programs throughout the ministry. The online store has a 100% satisfaction rating, and is tagged as a “Top-Seller.” Alfonso set up the online store after inspiration came from his experience working for The First-Tee, a golf-based inner-city youth program. “It dawned on me that we were getting equipment that we necessarily couldn’t give to our kids, but we will never turn down a contribution because every gift goes a long way,” says the class “A“ member of the PGA. MAM’s primary age group for equipment needs is 8-15 years old. “We were receiving nice clubs, but they were adult sizes and our golfers couldn’t use them. So I thought an eBay store would be a great idea.”
It turned out to be a fantastic idea. Not only does MAM give equipment to their youth and polish the sellable gear, but the donations that can’t be salvaged are sent to nearby recycle centers. Alfonso commented, “We sort of embrace the ‘green initiative’ in all the ways we do things. No donation goes to waste with us, and everything can be used for good.” The eBay store also provides working experience for some of the older youth involved with the MAM Park Golf Course. Boys and girls who are regularly involved at the course are given an opportunity to manage the eBay store and earn a paycheck. They list items, pack equipment and communicate with customers. Through this experience they can learn how to manage their hard-earned money and be responsible while on-the-job.
All sales go towards the programs that the golf course institutes for its youth. MAM has four seasonal programs at the golf course, with the summer program providing the most potential for relationship building because classes are held daily for 8 weeks.
Three area elementary schools are involved with the MAM Golf “Afterschool “program, Charjean, Bethel Grove and Getwell. MAM asks the school principles to select the children they feel would benefit most from their program. MAM golf program staff then meets with their parents. “We want families involved with us to know that God is first, education second and golf comes third,” says Alfonso. The course’s nine holes are named after the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. The nine fruits of the spirit provide the foundations from which MAM Golf develops its mentorship program.
“Without the support of Terry Mudder, a MAM part-time employee, the E-Bay store would never have become a reality”, the director explained. “He has worked with me from the very beginning making sure that we maintain the highest standards for our customers and the best possible training environment for our student workers and volunteers.” Mudder echoed his partner, saying, “Helping young people learn the principles of running a business while developing a strong work ethic are my goals in working with the MAM eBay store. Hopefully, I have been successful in accomplishing these goals.”
MAM takes the time to create relationships with their kids, and the eBay store is just an example of the dedication MAM shows to building up youth in all aspects of their lives.
The next goal is to reach 500 positive feedbacks and become an “Elite Seller.” “When we set this thing up, we knew that customer satisfaction would be our life-blood,” says Alfonso. “We’re not excused at all because we’re a ministry because people still want on time – quality service. Money is not what’s driving this train, God is.”