#MyGivingStory: Judy Foster
We know that every act of giving has a story behind it. Join us as we learn what moves our donors to dedicate their time, talents and financial support to changing lives within Florida.
What inspired you to start giving?
Realizing that I had the experiences, knowledge and successes that would enable me to make a positive difference in the lives of others…how I could help fill a need in so many ways and for varied causes that have personally affected my life and the lives of my family and friends.
What does giving mean to you?
Giving means sharing my time, talents, money, etc. without expecting something material in return. By giving I am showing my thanks for all the opportunities I’ve been given to enrich my life. Giving is paying back those persons and organizations that have helped me and my loved ones overcome adversity and solve problems. Giving is being empathetic to the needs of others, especially those less fortunate than I.
Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money or more to your community?
I know how much tennis has enriched my life and I want to pass on this opportunity to my community to help all attain a better quality of life. Every day I talk to people who have taken up tennis and have developed a passion for the game and are so very grateful that tennis is now a part of their lives. The courts are like a second home for me and so many others. I want to keep that home growing with more and more “residents.”
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice that will help them get started?
Find a cause or organization that raises the passion in you and search inside yourself for reasons why you want to give of yourself, to give back. Networking is a great way to find out about potential targets for your giving…ask family and friends what causes or organizations they support and be sure to ask them why. Then pick one or two causes or organizations and do your homework by finding out all you can about the ones you select so you are sure you and they are a good fit.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
A request trickled down from USTA National to the USTA Florida Section and then to me inquiring if there was an Adaptive Tennis program in our geographical area. There were none. However, I knew the person making the inquiry and was very familiar with his organization that was formerly called UPARC (Upper Pinellas Association for Retarded Citizens), and now named The Arc Tampa Bay. I decided that having had some experience teaching Adaptive Tennis, I could start a program for this group whose majority of clients were at some level of autism. We prepared a grant application and sent it to the USTA Florida Section Foundation. We received the grant, hired a Special Needs Professional teacher for the initial first year, trained volunteers and staff, purchased equipment and the program got off the ground with a bang. We thought the first day of the program we would only have a handful of participants. How wrong we were! Nearly 35 clients of The Arc showed up and found so much joy playing tennis. A common statement heard from the participants was, “I never thought I could play tennis [with their mental or physical disadvantages]. I want to play tennis the rest of my life!” I had tears of joy in my eyes just looking at all the smiling faces…people so genuinely proud of themselves for what they were accomplishing. That was about 4 years ago and the Adaptive Tennis program at The Arc of Tampa Bay is still growing and going strong.