Parentis Foundation to hold inaugural pickleball tournament to raise funds for literacy program

A nonprofit organization in Laguna Hills is preparing to host a pickleball tournament in Newport Beach this month with the ultimate goal of raising at least $40,000.

The inaugural Parentis Foundation tournament will be held on July 16 at the Tennis and Pickleball Club in Newport Beach. There are currently 82 players signed up, ranging from beginner to advanced, although managing director Janice Frechette-Artinger said she still hopes to fill at least 12 to 15 more teams.

Funds raised through tournament entry fees, sponsorships, a raffle and donations go to the foundation’s intergenerational literacy program, where older adults — typically those over 55, according to Frechette-Artinger — help teach at-risk students reading in their grade levels.

Launched in 2017, the literacy program is considered the foundation’s flagship program, connecting children in local Boys & Girls Clubs with adult volunteers.

A tutor, right, listens to a student read aloud as part of the Parentis Foundation’s intergenerational literacy program.

(Courtesy of the Parentis Foundation)

Proceeds go toward training materials, books, and a literacy consultant who oversees all programming.

Frechette-Artinger said the inspiration for the pickleball tournament came from the tutors who participate in the program. She believes at least a quarter of them play pickleball, a hybrid of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, which NPR says is one of the fastest-growing sports.

Masha Petrova, Parentis Health’s chief marketing officer, said she took up the sport herself during the pandemic.

Planning for the fundraiser began shortly after January of this year, and the Parentis Foundation chose the Newport Beach Tennis and Pickleball Club for the abundance of its courts and stadium seats, which they believe will enhance the experience. In addition to live music, viewers can enjoy tacos and margaritas.

The Parentis Foundation was established in 2016 when its for-profit subsidiary, Parentis Health, was looking for another way to engage seniors in the community, Petrova said. The company focuses on continuity of care for the elderly such as residential or hospice care.

“We know Orange County has such a large philanthropic community and seniors were looking for concrete volunteer opportunities,” Frechette-Artinger said in an interview Thursday. “We wanted to make an intergenerational initiative. That’s why we’ve partnered with the AARP Foundation Experience Corps in Orange County.”

According to Frechette-Artinger, volunteers work with students in a range of communities from Santa Ana to San Clemente. The program has provided services to at least 800 students, provided at least 2,000 tutoring hours and provided more than 40,000 hours by volunteers, she said.

Janice Frechette-Artinger and husband Sam play pickleball at the community courts in San Juan Capistrano.

Janice Frechette-Artinger and husband Sam play pickleball at the community courts in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Chris Johnston of Rancho Santa Margarita said he has been part of the program since day one.

Johnston, 73, said his wife saw a small ad in the newspaper and cut it out for him, suggesting he might like it. After attending a brief seminar led by Frechette-Artinger, Johnston said, “You know what? Sign me up.”

Johnston has been a tutor for five years and has tutored around 20 to 25 children from first through fourth grade. Johnston donates to the organization and also sits on the foundation’s board of directors.

“I see literacy as the #1 barrier to success. If you can’t read, there’s nothing you can do,” Johnston said, adding that tutors don’t just read with students, but work their way through a structured system of books that grow with increasing difficulty. “I will tutor as long as I can get up in the morning. It’s just a great, great program.

“Our very first tutoring period was at the Boys & Girls Club from [Capistrano] Valley here in Rancho Santa Margarita. We weren’t many. We were few and now I think we have over 100 or some weird tutors.”

Frechette-Artinger said the tournament will be accepting registrations for two-person teams through Friday, July 15. Interested readers can register at parentisfoundation.org/pickleball.

“This tournament will really help support the nine different in-school and out-of-school programs that we already participate in,” said Frechette-Artinger.

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