by KATHY LOY | photo by Zeena Gregg Photography

Four years ago, when David Hetherington retired from a 46 year career in shipbuilding, he dreamed of spending his days on the golf course and fishing at Lake Poway. Yet after hearing Melanie Beckstrom, Director of the BLAST program, describe the program at Los Penasquitos Elementary School, he was intrigued.

The Building Leaders As Servants Today program began in 1997 and is a character-driven, extended school day program that benefits families of limited income at Los Penasquitos Elementary School. “It is a collaborative effort that depends on the support and generosity of committed individuals, families, churches and businesses in our community,” said Melanie. “A combination of paid staff and volunteers provide a 1:15 ratio that assist students with homework and also provide recreational supervision and enrichment activities.” To date, BLAST has provided care to hundreds of at-risk families.

David, a native of Sunderland, England and long-time resident of Rancho Penasquitos, heard that BLAST needed positive male role models and thought that his experience raising five children and coaching youth soccer for over 25 years, as well as his “grandfatherly” demeanor, would be a good fit. “I started volunteering on the playground and during game time a few hours a week, then ventured into helping out with homework and now I find myself scheduling my golf games around my BLAST kids!” said David. He spends four afternoons each week with kids in the BLAST program and reserves one day for his “honey-do” list at home.

[quote] “What a joy to be able to work with local kids knowing that you’re giving back to your community and impacting someone’s future.” ~ David Hetherington [/quote]

Funding for the BLAST program is from families with participating children – plus grants, fundraising and the generosity of the community. “Hundreds of high school volunteers each year complete their community service requirements for high school graduation,” said Melanie. “Many have gone on to careers in early childhood education because of their experience with BLAST.”

With Melanie’s encouragement, David undertook organizing the annual BLAST Golf Tournament and Benefit Auction/Dinner at the DoubleTree Golf Resort each May. Through this event and others, the goal is to raise enough money to begin a Saturday sports program for BLAST kids. “What a joy to be able to work with local kids knowing that you’re giving back to your community and impacting someone’s future,” said David. For more information or to donate to the BLAST program, visit www.powayusd.com/pusdlpes.

[tabs] [tab title =” At A Glance” ]

Name: David Hetherington
Age: 65
Residence: Rancho Penasquitos
Family: Married to LindaSue; 5 Children; and 6 Grand Children
Hobbies: Golfing, Fishing, Biking, Photography
Organization: BLAST-Building Leaders As Servants Today
Phone: 858-204-9645
Website: www.powayusd.com/pusdlpes

[/tab] [/su_tabs]