Even as a young girl learning to play golf in Guadalajara, Lorena Ochoa had a dream to accomplish important things with her life. Last Tuesday, the LPGA champion saw that dream continue to play out in a big way.
Santa Clarita-based manufacturer American Hakko presented the Lorena Ochoa Foundation with a check for $90,300 at the 2nd annual Lorena Ochoa Charity Classic golf tournament at the Valencia Country Club. The foundation’s main project is a school for more than 350 underprivileged children on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico. Last year’s tournament raised $82,500 for the foundation.
“It has been a dream come true to give them opportunities to succeed,” Ochoa said. “I played golf for that reason.”
While last year’s tournament funds helped with school construction projects, she said the funds raised from this year’s tournament will help provide scholarships for students at La Barranca Educational Center.
Tuesday’s tournament was sold out and drew a group of more than 100 women golfers from throughout the greater Los Angeles region. The day kicked off with a golf clinic hosted by Ochoa, a retired Ladies Professional Golf Association player who has won nearly 130 local, national and international titles, 27 LPGA events and two Majors. She said the clinic was very well-received.
“It was a nice way to start the day,” Ochoa said.
The relationship between Ochoa and American Hakko reaches back nearly a decade, after the company – which manufactures and distributes soldering equipment – expanded into the Mexican marketplace. CEO Hitoshi Fujiwara was looking for ways to give back to the community when he met Ochoa at a golf tournament and learned about her foundation.
“He wanted to help and he made it happen,” Ochoa said. “You need to have people like him.”
Ochoa said there have also been discussions about expanding the Charity Classic golf tournament to Guadalajara and Japan, where American Hakko’s parent company, Hakko Corp, has been based for 60 years.
In addition to providing educational opportunities for more than 350 children in elementary and middle school, La Barranca Educational Center has become a gathering place for the community as well, with the late afternoon hours featuring computer labs, music and drama workshops, dance lessons, soccer and judo. The school’s innovative curriculum incorporates learning tools such as art and dialogue, games, exposure to nature and more, and each classroom has two dedicated professors.
“It has been phenomenal to see the positive impact Lorena’s foundation is making through the school, and it is so rewarding to be part of supporting that mission,” Fujiwara said. “I am pleased to see that this year’s tournament went even better than the last one, and my hope is for even more increases in 2015.”