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Article Published August 16, 2021

‘Fore’ the Fuel Banks: Brooks Organizes St. John’s Golf Tourney for Oct. 7

By Jenn McCulloch/

Nearly two decades ago, St. John’s Episcopal Church in North Haven began a golf tournament to benefit local fuel banks. In 2020, like most events, the golf tournament was canceled due to COVID and during that time, the organizer of the event moved out of state.

Having been involved in helping with the event for three years prior to COVID, Dawn Brooks knew she wanted the event to go on. Dawn stepped up to chair the 2021 St. John’s Episcopal Church Golf Tournament, which will be held on Thursday, Oct. 7 at Lyman Orchards Golf Course.

“Last year ended up being a no-go, so this year, I really wanted to resurrect it,” says Dawn. “There aren’t a ton of golfers at St. John and I felt like if I didn’t step in, it would be one of those things that went by the wayside.”

Dawn admits that she’s “not a great golfer,” but it’s something that she and her husband, Kristopher, enjoy doing together. They participate in the tournament together each year.

“It’s a beautiful fall day to take the day off and play golf,” says Dawn. “It’s a nice, all-day event on a really nice course and then when you’re finished, there’s fellowship, dinner, raffles, and prizes.”

Registration is underway for the 2021 St. John’s Episcopal Church Golf Tournament with a registration deadline of Wednesday, Sept. 8. Cost is $150 for a player or $55 to attend the non-golfing social with checks payable to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3 Trumbull Place, North Haven, CT 06473. Sponsorship opportunities are also available from $50 to $1,000 with various levels of recognition.

In addition to a day of golf, full registration also includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are also contests, such as longest drive and closest to the hole. Prizes are awarded at the reception.

“We don’t get many women golfers, so I’m usually a shoo-in for some of the prizes,” Dawn says, laughing. “It’s always a really good time, but I think this year will be special since we haven’t been together.”

As the chairperson of the event, Dawn is hoping to replicate the success of the 2019 fundraising and she set a goal of raising $5,000 to benefit the local fuel banks. Though she isn’t sure if she will meet her goal, she knows that every bit helps.

“We do a lot with food banks all year-round so this is a different way we can help and try to fill another need in the community,” says Dawn. “It’s been a difficult year because COVID has hit everyone differently, so I don’t know if I’ll make it to $5,000, but that’s my goal. Because we’ve done this for 18 years, the fuel banks are probably counting on it.”

Dawn has been a member of St. John’s for about 12 years, joining three years after she and her husband moved to North Haven. The couple grew up in Branford and moved to town when they were ready to buy their first home.

They are now raising their two children—10-year-old Ainsley and 7-year-old Asa—in town where the children go to school and participate in sports. Both children are also active at church, where they sing in the choir, help with community suppers, and participate in the youth group.

Asa plays baseball and is starting flag football and Ainsley is a cheerleader. Five years ago, Ainsley learned about Irish dancing and wanted to give it a try so Dawn signed her up at Brennan-Lucey Irish Dance Academy in Hamden.

“I signed her up in February and at the recital in June, I saw adults performing,” says Dawn, who works for The Hartford. “I danced growing up as a kid, so I signed up, too.”

The mother-daughter duo not only take their own Irish dance classes, but take a class together as well. Both have taken part in competitions and Dawn’s group took first place in a regional competition.

Dawn’s involvement at St. John’s extends well beyond coordinating the golf tournament. Over the years, she has volunteered in a number of ways, including teaching Sunday school and with the Altar Guild, which prepares the church for worship services.

Dawn also served several years on the vestry, the board that helps to run the church, before she and Jennifer Bassett were named co-wardens, which are the “lay-people in charge of church.”

“I decided to join the vestry because I think the church needs a good mix of all ages who are participating to bring different perspectives,” says Dawn. “Jennifer and I were asked to become wardens in the coming year and I felt like I was up for the challenge. It is going to be a difficult time because our priest is retiring on Aug. 22, but we’ll navigate our way through.”

The church has also navigated the challenges of COVID over the past 18 months. With North Haven recently moving back into the red zone, St. John’s has moved worship services outdoors. It also continues to live-stream services on its Facebook page. Dawn encourages anyone with interest in visiting the church to come to a service.

“We are very welcoming,” says Dawn. “You don’t have to be Episcopal. When they do a eucharist, they say it’s God’s table and everyone is welcome.”

Despite the challenges, Dawn enjoys being a part of the church’s “very active community.” She loves watching her children take part in the children’s choir and youth group, crediting Michele Kearney, the director of children’s ministries, for keeping the children engaged throughout COVID, noting that “the kids are really lucky to have her.” She also is proud of the example set for her children by being involved.

“My kids understand the volunteerism that they see,” says Dawn. “Just last weekend, I had to bring the parish books to the Dump because they got moldy during COVID. They asked, ‘Why are you doing it?’ and I said, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ I like to be that example for my kids.”

For information on events and services, visit @StJohnsNorthHaven on Faceboo. Sunday services are also live-streamed. For information, call 203-239-0156.