Agape House turns into mini-golf course

Randy Wood of Hermiston puts a ball as Hunter Braithwaite, 11, a member of Boy Scout Troop 605 out of Hermiston, looks on Saturday at the Agape House in Hermiston.<BR><I>Staff photo by E.J. Harris</I>

Agape House went through a bit of a transformation Saturday, turning into a mini-golf course.

The charitable food and clothing bank often holds small fundriasers, said Director Dave Hughes, but this is the first time they've tried mini-golf.

Hughes said he decided to try out putt putt golf as a fund raiser because he knew there weren't any mini-golf courses in the area.

"I remember playing putt putt golf when I was a kid and really enjoyed it."

He aimed to make the fundraiser an activity people could participate in rather than just asking for money.

"It gives a value back to the people who support the event," Hughes said."I am a firm believer of giving back for people, particularly in our fundraisers."

It cost $5 to play, and Agape House gave out prizes for the best single score and team score.

Hughes said Agape House hosts about a fundraiser a month. In December they hosted a murder mystery theater and in February they'll have a half-off yard sale. In march there'll be a talent show. The different events allow Agape House to cater to different parts of the community. Older people often like the murder mystery shows while young people like mini-golf and musicians like the talent show.

He said he likes smaller events so people have more chances to give, rather than asking for a huge lump sum. In the declining economy, Hughes realized the advantage of offering several small, relatively cheap events, versus one big one.

In the past few months Hughes said he hadn't seen a drop in fundraising or giving, but he has seen a stark increase in those coming to Agape House for help.

Around noon, after the fundraiser had been going for just a few hours, Hughes said he was happy with the turnout. He was glad they hadn't been overwhelmed. Though the event was aimed at families and kids, he said people of all ages came Saturday morning. With a new fundraiser, he said he never knows exactly how it will turn out, so he's using Saturday's event as a baseline for future mini-golf events.

Agape House has put together small mini-golf events during the Pendleton Cattle Barons Weekend, the Hermiston Funfest and at the Umatilla County Fair.

The course at Agape House twisted through the halls and rooms of the building on Harper Road for 18 holes, increasing in difficulty. Each hole was made of green slabs of fake grass surrounded by boards and bricks making the boundaries of the hole. The boards and bricks were bright shades of blue, red and yellow. Some holes included turns in the course, others had obstructions. Hughes said Boy Scouts and volunteers from the schools helped set up the course and volunteers helped build them.

Hughes hopes to make the mini-golf play day a quarterly event, and aims to have others in April, June and October.

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