Rob McDougall, president and CEO of Gelson’s Markets, said his company’s annual “Fun Day” has two purposes.
“First, it brings together more than 500 Gelson’s employees, vendors, distributors, brokers and industry friends to have fun,” he said. “We want to say thank you for your support of this tournament. It is because of the support from all of our vendor partners who are participating in this tournament and supporting it with sponsorships, prizes and demos that we can pull this off every year.
“The second purpose, and really our main focus of today’s event, is to raise money for college scholarships that we give out through the CGA Educational Foundation. We’re proud to have funded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships since the inception of the program.”
At last year’s Fun Day, Gelson’s honored its former top executive, Bob Stiles, with a scholarship in his name. He passed away on Thanksgiving last year.
“We all miss him very much; he was just a great mentor of mine and a great friend,” McDougall said. “I was so glad we did that scholarship under his name this last year. He enjoyed it and appreciated it. He always loved this Fun Day; he enjoyed it, he had his own team and enjoyed seeing everybody.”
To help the golfers better understand the importance of the scholarships, McDougall enlisted a third-generation Gelson’s employee, Heather Nakamura, to speak to the group. She received CGAEF funds that helped her obtain her degree.
McDougall, in fact, was the one who introduced Nakamura, who was working at Gelson’s, to the tuition reimbursement and scholarship programs offered through the CGAEF.
“I cannot express just how much these programs helped me over the years,” Nakamura said. “The scholarship and tuition reimbursement program allowed me to focus on my education rather than on how to pay for college. In 2014, I can proudly say I became the first in my family to graduate from college with a bachelor of arts in marketing and management.”
After she graduated, she assisted the marketing department at Gelson’s with some community events. She then was offered a position as a marketing coordinator, followed by the marketing manager role, which she now fills.
“Reflecting back, I realize that without the help of some of my incredible mentors and the CGA tuition reimbursement program, all of this would have been much more difficult to achieve,” Nakamura said. “So I am here to tell you that I am living proof that this is what the golf tournament is all about. It is not only for fun…most importantly, it helps support the educational and lifetime goals of generations of people. Thank you all for participating in our Golf Fun Day and making a difference in someone’s life.”