Supporters and volunteers for diverse local nonprofits are hoping that golf tournaments make for a robust spring fundraising season.

"The Pima Council on Aging is a great organization that does a lot of really great things for seniors. They help seniors in a number of important ways and when they wanted my support I was happy to help. I love to help out kids and underprivileged folks who haven't been as fortunate as I have," said Don Pooley, a professional golfer who has won tournaments on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour and will host Greens for Seniors to benefit PCOA.

Pooley and other supporters seek to raise at least $25,000 to funnel directly into programming for the nonprofit, which has lost more than $1.8 million in permanent funding from state, county and city agencies since 2010.

Due to sequestration, additional cuts of more than $585,000 in federal dollars are anticipated on July 1, which will significantly impact the "Pima Meals on Wheels" program for low-income seniors who are physically unable to prepare their own meals. Last year the program provided more than 258,000 individual meals and more than 100,000 congregate meals through 12 local senior centers.

PCOA has been a nonprofit organization for 46 years and was the first Area Agency on Aging started in Arizona, said Adina Wingate, PCOA director of marketing.

"Like all nonprofits, contributions from individuals are more important than ever," Wingate said. "We are always trying to get the word out to people so that we don't have to make our elderly wait for help. Sometimes now we have people waiting two or three months for something as simple as a bath and assistance with other daily needs,"

Wingate said that over the past several years, many residents age 60 and older have been negatively affected by the loss of jobs and homes and deteriorating retirement funds. Unplanned major medical expenses also have contributed to the economic insecurity of many local seniors, and calls to the PCOA Helpline (790-7262) for basic assistance - bathing, house cleaning, home repairs - have increased more than 15 percent each year.

PCOA also provides assistance and support to clients (most of whom live at or below the federal poverty level) through visiting nurses and home health aides, adult day care, transportation, assistance with grocery shopping and paying bills, employment assistance, tax preparation and assistance, case management and services to support caregivers.

PCOA Development Coordinator Debbie Conover said the upcoming golf tournament is a great opportunity for Tucsonans to meet Pooley, golf on a beautiful course and support local seniors at the same time.

"People in Tucson really care, and try to reach out to the best of their ability. The giving has shrunk because of the economy, but the giving is still there," Conover said. "I just want people to be aware that the elderly community is growing and the needs are growing as well, but the dollars we have to provide services are shrinking."

Seniors aren't the only ones experiencing shrinking support. Those who are sight- and hearing-impaired are also feeling a funding crunch, according to Pete Weakland, a member of the Tucson Breakfast Lions Club who has organized the Drive "Fore" Sight Scramble for the past six years with fellow Lion Dom Dominice.

The golf tournament benefits Camp Abilities at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and Camp Tatiyee in Pinetop-Lakeside for children 7 and older with mental and physical special needs. Those special needs range from deafness and blindness to muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and spinal cord injuries.

The Breakfast Lions Club hopes to raise between $7,000 and $10,000 to support the camps this summer.

"Donations to Camp Abilities and Camp Tatiyee were down last year, and they really relied on our contributions," Weakland said. "There is so much out there for able-bodied kids, but relatively few opportunities for kids with special needs, and there is a large population of those kids in Tucson who are underserved. Who is going to help these kids if we don't? The government can't do it anymore."

If You Go

Don Pooley Greens for Seniors Fifth Annual Golf Tournament for Pima Council on Aging

• When: May 4 - 7 a.m. registration and breakfast; 8 a.m. shotgun start.

• Where: Del Lago Golf Club, 14155 E. Via Rancho del Lago in Vail.

• Cost: $150 per person.

• Etc.: The entry fee includes tournament play, continental breakfast, goody bag, lunch, awards presentation and play and photo opportunities with Don Pooley, winner of the 1980 B.C. Open, 1987 Memorial Tournament and the 2002 U.S. Senior Open.

• For more information or to register: Go to or call 790-0504.

The Tucson Breakfast Lion's Club Eighth Annual Drive "Fore" Sight Golf Classic Scramble

• When: May 5 - 7:30 a.m. registration; 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.

• Where: Del Lago Golf Club, 14155 E. Via Rancho del Lago in Vail.

• Cost: $100 per person.

• Etc: The entry fee includes tournament play hosted by KGUN9 anchor Jennifer Waddell, golf shirt and hat, gift pack, lunch, a raffle and a silent auction. All proceeds from the golf tournament benefit Camp Abilities and Camp Tatiyee for youth with special needs.

• For more information or to register: Go to or call Dom Dominice at 323-2522.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at