[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by D.D. Ford Construction, a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]
As the owner of the golf training and coaching facility, The Studio at Twin Lakes, Parsons has 22 years of experience working with students and building a business — experience he shares willingly as a guest speaker in Santa Barbara classrooms through the Santa Barbara Partners in Education’s Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program.
Volunteering became an important part of Parsons’ life shortly after a friend suggested he become involved with Partners in Education, a nonprofit organization run under the Santa Barbara County Education Office umbrella. He quickly discovered the enjoyment in giving back to the community.
“I think the rewards of volunteering in the community are very evident,” he said. “In all honesty, I volunteer with Partners in Education for selfish reasons: it makes me feel good to do it.”
Experience as a golf coach often aids Parsons in his volunteer work as a mentor.
“Since I became a golf instructor 22 years ago, I have always had a great stable of high school golfers; over 70 of them have gone on to play college golf,” he said. “The bulk of what I do with young players is to coach them through a difficult time in their lives.
“As a mentor, I help to prepare them for bigger things than they often imagine. The opportunity to volunteer with Partners in Education and to have the opportunity to help a broader audience is a no-brainer to me.”
When working with students, Parsons stresses the importance of identifying and following a dream. He tries to teach students that they really can do anything if they set their minds to it.
“I hope to have an impact on the students I meet by letting them know that it’s important to have dreams and that we hold the ability to craft our futures in a way we see fit,” he said. “I’ve always been a dreamer and have been pretty successful at living the life that I imagined for myself. If I have a regret, it’s that I didn’t dream big enough. Too many people these days don’t have big dreams and can’t see that anything is possible. It is really as simple as that.”
Parsons believes that business professionals can have a more profound effect on students through volunteering than they may think.
“Offering advice to students who want it is one of the hidden treasures of talking with young people,” he explained. “The ability we have as ‘outsiders’ to have an impact on the students is really powerful because we are there specifically to offer help to them.”
Volunteering has become a vital aspect of Parsons’ life and he encourages community members to get involved.
“With the experience I have had as a golf coach I have learned that sometimes the right word at the right time can have life-changing effects on a young person,” he said. “You never know when or how that opportunity will present itself, but I am certain that it is much more likely to happen if I’m in their environment rather than sitting at my desk.”
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— Michaela Ford is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a Santa Barbara Partners in Education intern through the Partners Job Readiness & Internship Program. Partners in Education programs are administered under the Santa Barbara County Education Office.http://www.sbceo.org/~partners/