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September VOM Goes To…

August 30, 2007 02:18 PM

• Birthplace: Bar Harbor, Maine
• Favorite Movie: My Fair Lady
• Favorite Food: Take Out…Any kind
• Favorite Travel Spot: Bar Harbor
• Favorite Tennis Stroke/Shot: Huh?!? Just kidding.  My backhand...it’s so inconsistent I have to watch it to make sure it goes in!

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of a volunteer is “a person who willfully offers himself or herself for a service, undertaking or purpose; to do charitable or helpful work, usually without pay.”  Wise beyond her years, 23-year-old Takeisha St. Hilaire is the personification of a volunteer.  Her humble personality, giving spirit and long list of tennis accomplishments is why USTA Florida has named “Keisha” September Volunteer of the Month. 

Keisha has been a volunteer with USTA Florida for over 2 years.  She first volunteered in Region 4 while attending college at the University of Central Florida (UCF), and then temporarily moved back to her hometown, West Palm Beach, last year.  Still taking online classes while in West Palm Beach, Keisha managed to organize her time between school and her other real life passion: tennis.    

Her professional volunteer titles with the USTA are USTA Clinician and Community Tennis Association (CTA) volunteer for the East Coast Tennis Foundation.  As a USTA Clinician, Keisha has a close relationship with schools; training teachers or after-school specialists and urging them to implement tennis into PE classes or after-school programs.  With the East Coast Tennis Foundation, Keisha not only planned their summer tennis camp program at the Tennis Club of Palm Beach, but she also taught tennis camp.  Working additionally as a bookkeeper and office administrator, Keisha set up the entire phone and fax system for the foundation and new NJTL program.  Did I mention she wrote a grant for the organization as well, which the foundation was awarded? 

However; those two titles are only a glimpse into the reality of her accomplishments, which are widely diverse.  During Black History Month, Keisha planned and implemented a FREE tennis clinic for individuals in West Palm Beach County and Indian River County, two African-American communities.  She also coordinated a USTA Tennis Block Party at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, advocating USTA programs to new crowds.

Perhaps one of her biggest activities was successfully establishing the Jr. Team Tennis program in West Palm Beach after a the program took a 10 year hiatus.  During this time, 30 new players participated. Keisha set up FREE one hour tennis clinics every Tuesday and Thursday which were available to all Jr. Team Tennis players in the program.

Keisha continues to promote tennis throughout the Greater West Palm Beach area without being asked and even secured herself a spot on the local Hip Hop Radio station, X102.3, where she broadcast upcoming tennis events and volunteer opportunities with USTA Florida.

The West Palm Beach league program also got a boost from Keisha when she organized a USTA 6.5 Combo Team.  And what about non-USTA members who just want to play tennis?  Well, Keisha helped them too by creating a Wednesday night social “drop-in” for adults of all skill level.  The gathering started last fall and continues today.

Janet Sprague, USTA Florida North Region 6 Community Coordinator, says Keisha is a Godsend to her.

“Keisha has been great,” said Janet.  “She has been such an asset to us and has picked up slack in Palm Beach County.”

Although Keisha returns back to UCF this fall, she assures us her ties with tennis will remain strong.

More fun facts about Keisha

My earliest tennis memory was…Carrying my mom’s equipment (I think I was 17 or 18) and thinking “this is not what volunteer means.”

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be… I’m not sure, but they would have to be 5 years old so I can win.

When I am not playing or volunteering in tennis I am… Sleeping or working for food.

People who have influenced me most are… My family, Professor McDonald (Palm Beach Community College), Professor Gent (Palm Beach Community College).

Family members Include: Janet, Jairmiya and Pierre St. Hilaire. 

 

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