Win Hoyt Golf Tournament celebrates 26th year

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MANCHESTER — When Winthrop Hoyt moved to Manchester over 50 years ago he brought a philanthropic spirit with him, leading both the Caddy Scholarship Program at the Ekwanok Country Club and the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for a time.

Though Hoyt passed away in 1989, his family has carried on that legacy for the last 26 years through the annual Win Hoyt Golf Tournament, held on Wednesday.

"It got going when Uncle Win died in 1989, and we were trying to do something appropriate in his memory," said Win's nephew Bill Hoyt. "A golf tournament seemed like the natural thing to do."

The event, primarily sponsored by Casella Waste Systems, saw an increase in community support this year with over 20 "tee sponsors" including businesses like The Dorset Union Store and Bromley Mountain. Many local businesses also supported the tournament through the tournaments raffle, as cart sponsors, or as corporate team sponsors.

For a fee of $150 each, golfers enjoy 18 holes of championship golf with a cart to boot, lunch, hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar.

"It's just a fun day," said Tony Hoyt, a fellow nephew of Win. "This is two years in a row that we've have good weather."

Though the tournament had historically been organized in conjunction with the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bill and Tony took the reins following the dissolution of the Chamber in 2016. For the last two years the tournament has been held at the Ekwanok Country Club, benefitting both the Burr and Burton Academy scholarship program and Bennington County Habitat for Humanity.

"When the chamber went out of business we picked up the ball and negotiated with the Ekwanok to get it over here," said Bill, noting that the tournament was previously held at the Manchester Country Club. "We've been working with Habitat for 6 or 7 years now, but we decided to add a second charity with BBA last year."

In 2016 the tournament raised almost $16,000, split evenly between the two organizations. For both Habitat and BBA, the tournament is seen as a way to fulfill a shared mission.

"We're lucky because a number of the families with whom we're partnering and building houses with at our Jennifer Lane development here in Manchester Center are now able to go to the Manchester schools," said Susan Sommer, executive director of Bennington County Habitat for Humanity. "That includes Burr and Burton Academy."

"It makes perfect sense, because studies have shown that kids who are in stable and safe houses perform much better in school," said BBA's Director of Advancement Cynthia Gubb. "Affordable, safe housing and student scholarship is a natural match."

According to the two philanthropic leaders, there is a need for affordable housing closer to area schools like Burr and Burton.

"A lot of people in the service industry, at the grocery stores, or even working here at the Ekwanok need a place to live that's not an hour away. Our teachers need a place to live," said Gubb. "When they have options that are more affordable, it benefits everyone economically."

"The state of Vermont and the town of Manchester talk about affordable housing and low income housing, and then they talk about workforce housing. The reality is, there's no difference," said Sommer. "We all need affordable housing, and we all work extraordinarily hard to raise our families."

That charitable mission is integral to the character of the tournament's namesake, says Sommer.

"Win Hoyt made this his home, and expanded his vision of helping people to include the community that he fell in love with here in Manchester. That, for us, carries through across Bennington County," said Sommer, citing Habitat's Jennifer Lane project in Manchester, and a corresponding North Branch Street development in Bennington. "Expanding that vision to include everyone in the county is extremely important to the work that we do."

"This is really a testament to Win Hoyt and his community mindedness," said Gubb, who knew Hoyt personally during his time at Stratton Mountain. "It's just a way of continuing the legacy that he left."

For his nephews, the tournament serves to commemorate Win's charitable spirit while enriching the community he cared so deeply for.

"It brings the community closer together, and it lets people see what an asset the Ekwanok is to the community," said Bill Hoyt, noting his Uncle's longstanding involvement with the Country Club. "We hope that everyone has a nice time, and they walk away with a better understanding of what Habitat does and what Burr and Burton's trying to accomplish."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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