Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Comfort Matlala Golf Open Benefit

In 1997 a group of Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in South Africa: the first contingent to be sent there in response to the end of Apartheid. Among them was our nephew and godson Patrick McCluskey. Pat was assigned to the town of Vlakfontein and the townspeople were asked to volunteer to host him. No one came forward, so the honor fell to the town chief, Comfort Matlala. Pat moved in with him and his wife Augustine and the grandchildren they took care of while their daughter Mavis worked away from home to earn money for their support. It was not long before the inhabitants of Vlakfontein regretted their reluctance to be Pat’s host family. Pat is a delightful person, and he took great pride in immersing himself in Northern Sutu, the language of the area. This impressed the townspeople—and, if truth be told, a fair number of Pat’s family and friends. Patrick became part of the family.

In 1998 Comfort died. Patrick tended him in his illness and was a great help and consolation to the family which had taken him in. Not only did he take over the role of overseeing his little African brothers— his story of taking them to the dentist is a gem—but also his stipend was helpful in covering some of their expenses. His parents visited him in Vlakfontein, as did his siblings and many other relatives and friends. They would always combine the trip with a visit to Kruger National Park.

After Patrick returned home and took up a career as a high school math teacher in Chicago and Lombard, he continued to support the family financially, and made several visits back, taking along family and friends and his future wife, Theresa. As Patrick’s family responsibilities grew—he and Theresa now have three children, Jack Matlala, Andrew and Mary—he found it harder to send money back to Augustine and the family. Hence the “Comfort Matlala Golf Open Benefit “ which will be held for the fourth time on Sunday, August 5 at the Ziegfield-Troy Golf Range in Woodridge, IL. The entry fee provides a round of golf, all the chili you can eat (thanks to Mary Ann, Theresa and their crew of cooks), beer, soft drinks and a Texas Hold’em Tournament. All the proceeds go towards the support of Comfort’s family.

So if you are in Chicago on Sunday, that’s where the fun will be. And if you want to contribute to a charity where 100% of the proceeds go to the recipients, call Pat and Theresa at (630) 942-1606 for details.

1 comment:

Ann said...

You must be so very proud of Patrick and all he has done for this family and actually for the whole community. Actually, he has also done great service to the United States, as well, which has suffered so in world opinion in the last few years. He is someone that certainly speaks well for America and everyday Americans! Thanks for the lovely and inspiring story.