Marylou Gollert, known as the Golf Ball Lady, is a Collingwood resident, golfer and for the past 13 years has raised money in a very creative and unique way for My Friend’s House, a local women’s and family shelter. I had the pleasure to sit down with Marylou a couple of weeks ago to learn more about her efforts.
Marylou and her team collects and receives donations of pristine and gently used golf balls and then sells them. The golf balls are washed and scrubbed (she has a separate washing machine that she loads with balls and towels). After a good washing the balls are sorted into different brands and grades, which determine the pricing (for as little as 40 cents per ball). From the sale of golf balls, the money is donated to My Friend’s House and they use it to distribute as they see fit to help keep the kids in a good state of well-being with things aside from basic needs. To date, more than $45,000 has been donated from ball sales!
Golf Ball Lady was started by one person, but the success of Golf Ball Lady has been due, in large part to the contributions, help, and commitment of so many people and businesses who have donated small and large amounts of time, patience, golf balls, and expertise to help Marylou.
“My Friend’s House must fundraise almost 40% of our budget and we couldn’t do that without a supportive community. The smiles that Marylou’s team puts on the faces of these courageous little people is heartwarming. Can you just imagine how scary it is for a child to run from an abusive situation to a strange setting? The donations are used to purchase toys, books and games, fun outings or a special treat with mom and all those things that make a child feel safe in a stable environment. Along with the great work of our Child and Youth worker, these are the things that help reduce the panic and pain for a child in trauma.”
– Julie LeBlanc, Event and Volunteer Manager, My Friend’s House
Marylou admits to not being the most tech-savvy lady so she had some tremendous help from Heidi Ehlers, of GREEN LOVE and her collaborator Creative Director Ronnie Lebow.
They held regular e-meetings to create an e-commerce website and develop a brand identity for Golf Ball Lady during COVID.
“My husband Vic and I moved to Collingwood seven years ago. As Christmas approached, we were looking for a local charity to support and our neighbour Marylou Gollert suggested My Friend’s House. We delivered our donation in person and were met at the door by staff who expressed their gratitude, as they barely had enough food to feed those they were sheltering. From that moment, we committed to do all we could to support such a worthy cause. I started collecting golf balls with Marylou from nearby ponds (chest-waders and all!), which she then cleaned and sold on a baker’s rack between our houses. It gave us a great feeling to know that the proceeds were going to children escaping abusive situations at home. I was also part of a team at the Squire John’s Tent Sale selling balls, and annual donations to My Friend’s House became our top priority for giving.”
– Sandra and Vic Garcia
“Ross Lawton who holds the record for the most donated balls, worked at Monterra. Initially he brought over 10,000 balls! That got us started expanding our efforts and he regularly arrived with some big containers of balls. Ross is always glad to help and but having retired from working at a golf course has us hoping others will pick up the slack of his and several other diminishing sources.”
Last year while playing golf at Cranberry, Bill passed the golf ball stand where Marylou lives.
“When I got home, I thought about the fundraiser, and I was touched by the thought of how it was helping women in need at a low point in their lives. That afternoon I dropped off about 100 golf balls from my garage. Then I sent an email to twenty of my friends that I knew played golf asking to drop off any balls at my house to donate. I put a picnic cooler on my back patio marked GOLF BALLS. I wasn’t sure if anyone else had extra golf balls, but I figured it cost nothing to send the email and see what happens. Within three weeks, I had collected over 1700 balls and $65 cash from just one email. I believe this translated into approximately $1,000 for the women’s shelter. Although many donated a few balls as I did, I have to thank Lauree Patrick, Mike Killackey, and Charlie Guadiatis, as these three donated about half the total number of balls. You never know who has access to golf balls when you least expect it. And as a bonus, Marylou and I became friends because of my many trips to donate golf balls; they just keep coming!”
– Bill Meldrum 705-351-2980
Diane Yeates and Cheryl May support the Children’s Fund & My Friends House by collecting new, old or badly bruised golf balls, beer cans, wine bottles and liquor bottles. Contributions may be left in the blue box at 68 or 54 Waterfront Circle in the Blue Shores community in Collingwood.
Terry Schmidt, a Cranberry member, also joined the team of ball donators last year and continues to drop off balls from himself and others. Thanks to the many that help in this way.
“Immensely helpful ongoing support of staff and members at Osler Brook, who contribute to ball donation containers there, have added thousands of balls over the years to this fundraiser.”
Squire John’s is a fabulous business supporting the cause. Every year the Golf Ball Lady and her team set up tables to sell balls at their tent sale. The date for 2021 is July 30 – August 2 at Craigleigth Ski Club, so stop by and buy or donate some balls.
What you can do:
If you have any balls lying around that you can donate please do so. Spread the word – email or text your friends who are golfers, or live by a golf course who may have balls to donate. The goal is to have enough golf balls donated each year, to raise over $6000. Call to arrange time and place for drop-off or pick up.
There is a direct link on the Golf Ball Lady website to My Friend’s House for monetary donations (tax receipts will be issued).
Check out the website for more information and to see inventory available for sale. Location for porch pickup will be sent after online purchase completed.
You can help the cause by donating your time, spreading the word to your friends, asking a business to help, etc.
GOLF BALL LADY: 705-994-6338 | www.golfballlady.ca
STORY: SELENA BLAIS | PHOTOS: SUBMITTED