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STRENGTH: Buckner/Chevron Phillips partnership helps abused & neglected children

Strength can be found in partnerships, and Buckner Children and Family Services finds strength in the partnership it has with Chevron Phillips.

At this time in the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Chevron Phillips Charity Golf Tournament is still scheduled for Sept. 25. The success of this tournament is one of the biggest sources of revenue for Buckner Children and Family services, a fact not lost on Buckner Southeast Texas administrator Laura May, since the funding goes to directly helping area children and families.

“That golf tournament plays a very huge role. It’s our largest contributor of the services that we get funding from,” May said. “And the funding that we ask for from the community is really for the first-line work with our children and families that we do. We try really hard to cover all of our overhead through other grants, per diems and contracts we have from the state. With the things that we ask for from the community, we try to keep those directly serving the kids and the families that we work with.”

Buckner, a Christian organization, has provided a safe home for Southeast Texas children with backgrounds of abuse, neglect or abandonment for more than 50 years.

They work to help children find foster families, adoption family crisis classes and other programs.

Buckner senior events manager Rhonda Robichau said it’s the support shown by Chevron Phillips that keeps the programs going.

Paul Spence and Randy White of STI Group won “Pit Stop of the Year” in 2019. (Courtesy photo)

“We can’t do this without community support, and Chevron Phillips has also been ready and eager to help us with the needs of the children,” she said. “The golf tournament is one way they do that. All the proceeds from the tournament stay in Southeast Texas to benefit our kids here.”

Buckner, of course, has a lot of help from a community that is usually quite enthusiastic in its support for a golf tournament.

“They’re pretty popular in this area,” Chevron Phillips community relations manager Vicki Derese said. “I think that was kind of why we wanted to go in that direction. I, myself, don’t play, so I’ve had to learn a little bit about golf. I can see why it’s such a popular event and makes for a good fundraiser.”

The tournament includes prizes for top finishers and other golf events like longest drive, closest to the pin, putting, sweet spot challenge, hitting the green and more.

Those less inclined toward golf will find a banquet of food available from the 14 food pits cooking breakfast, lunch, snacks and desserts.

Other, non golf-related events at the Charity Golf Tournament include auctions.

“Our other big draw is the food,” Derese said. “We’ve got lots of people that come out and put pits and other things at the tournament to cook. I would say if you leave our tournament hungry there’s something wrong!”

The pits compete among themselves for tips patrons give to the best pit, which the pits donate to Buckner.

The pit with the most tips wins “Pit Stop of the Year,” which includes a personal trophy and a traveling trophy that bears the winners’ names.

In 2019, Paul Spence and Randy White of STI Group won the award.

“I think one of the highlights of the event that makes it stand out is all of the wonderful food vendors that come out and show up to feed our golfers,” Robichau said. “Everyone has a really good time raising money for the event. I love that it’s typically a sold-out event, which shows that the community enjoys supporting the boys and girls.”

To date, the tournament has raised $3.4 million for Buckner, and $274,466 raised just last year. For Derese, the whole endeavor is worth it because Buckner is worth it.

“First and foremost Buckner is a very worthwhile organization,” she said. “They do such wonderful work in the community to help abused children.”

The 2019 Chevron Phillips Charity Golf Tournament donated $274,466.80 to Buckner Children and Family Services. (Courtesy photo)

The strength of the partnership between Buckner and Chevron Phillips goes beyond the annual golf tournament, which began in 1999. Also every year, Chevron Phillips hosts a traditional Christmas dinner for the children living at Buckner campuses and foster homes. Chevron Phillips employees also shop for gifts for all of Buckner’s children.

“Santa comes and passes the gifts out at night,” Robichau said. “[Chevron Phillips] sponsors that whole thing. Their staff goes out and buys the gifts, wraps them and brings them to us to have ready for that night. The company itself pays for the actual dinner for that night and they’ve been doing that for over 20 years.”
May appreciates everything Chevron Phillips does for Buckner’s mission.

“We love them,” May said. “They are amazing, and that tournament gives us the ability to keep services for the community that we provide and for the children and families that we serve. It really gives us the opportunity to provide the best care that we can. They make it possible for us to do what we do for kids and families everyday in the community.”