Champion Hills, a premier private Club in Hendersonville is the employer of nearly 100 employees – some seasonal, some full-time; some administrative, some grounds; some just graduating high school, and some nearing retirement. Regardless of the employee’s job description, age or pay, all staff are eligible for the same benefit: educational assistance.
The Employee Scholarship Fund began in 2013 when an employee voiced his desire to return to school but lacked the financial means to a Champion Hills Club member. The empathetic member, among many others, formed a committee that spearheaded the Fund. Since the inaugural year, Champion Hills members have raised more than $300,000 for its staff’s educational goals.
For the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year, 14 employees will receive assistance, totaling near $50K in tuition. Two of the food & beverage staff are pursuing culinary degrees from AB Tech; an East Hendersonville High graduate has enrolled in the AB Tech’s Dental Hygienist program; a Hendersonville High graduate will be attending the University of Tennessee; and, a golf cart attendant will be attending Elon in the fall.
Mara Shook, a golf cart attendant, new graduate and an incoming freshman at Elon, began her journey at Champion Hills as an intern in 2015. To her surprise, the Champion Hills position provided more than a paycheck, but it also taught her important life lessons that will surely follow her into adulthood.
According to Mara, “This job has taught me about finding meaning in simple, basic tasks. Every day we are required to tuck in our shirts, keep our hands out of our pockets, show up smiling and remember the members’ names. I found importance in sweating the small stuff.”
Though these tasks may seem menial and fruitless, Mara stated these tasks have taught her how to show up - not only for a job or to school – but to life.
Her mentors – the golf professionals and the Champion Hills members – some doctors, lawyers, military officers, business executives, etc. – shared the importance of meeting expectations and going above and beyond the job description. They showed her that there will always be a lot expected of her, and that it is not only important to meet those expectations, but to exceed those expectations. And, every individual – the fellow cart attendant, the doctor, the service staff or the business executive – all have something to offer and a lesson to teach if you just show up and pay attention.
Mara is done for the year at Champion Hills as she embarks on her new college journey. Though she has moved away from her Hendersonville roots, the wisdom of her mentors will follow her into the lecture halls of Elon. The move from home has proved to be harder than anticipated, she added, but her classes are going well.
When asked if she plans to return to Champion Hills in the summer, Mara assuredly responded she would. She said, “I am looking forward to reconnecting with everyone and sharing my experience with them, after all, it is their experience too.”