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

Janice Frechette-Artinger, husband Sam, and pickleball players Danna Kipnis, Wendy Siegel, Kevin Schiavi, Elizah Siegel.
Janice Frechette-Artinger, right, is organizing an annual Pickleball Tournament for the Parentis Foundation, the nonprofit affiliate of Parentis Health at the Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach on July 16. Her fellow players Danna Kipnis, Wendy Siegel, Kevin Schiavi, Elizah Siegel, and husband Sam, from left, pictured July 7, will also play.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A Laguna Hills nonprofit is gearing up to hold a pickleball tournament in Newport Beach this month with the end goal of fundraising at least $40,000.

The Parentis Foundation’s inaugural tournament will take place on July 16 at the Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach. There are currently 82 players signed up, from novice to advanced ranks, though executive director Janice Frechette-Artinger said she still hopes to fill in at least 12 to 15 more teams.

For the record:

10:04 a.m. July 8, 2022A previous version of this article stated the foundation provided 2,000 tutoring sessions. They provided 20,000 sessions.

The funding raised through the tournament’s entry fees, sponsorships, a raffle and donations will be put toward the foundation’s intergenerational literacy program, where older adults — typically those above the age of 55, according to Frechette-Artinger — help tutor students at risk of not reading at their grade levels.

The literacy program, launched in 2017, is considered the foundation’s flagship program and connects children at local Boys & Girls Clubs with adult volunteers.

A tutor, right, listens to a student read out loud.
A tutor, right, listens to a student read out loud as part of the Parentis Foundation’s intergenerational literacy program.
(Courtesy of the Parentis Foundation)

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

Frechette-Artinger said inspiration for the pickleball tournament came from the tutors who participate in the program. She thinks at least a quarter of them play pickleball, a cross of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton that’s one of the fastest growing sports, according to NPR.

Parentis Health chief marketing officer Masha Petrova said she picked up the sport herself during the pandemic.

Planning for the fundraiser started shortly after January this year, and the Parentis Foundation chose the Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach for the abundance of its courts and stadium seating, which she feels will elevate the experience. Spectators will be able to enjoy tacos and margaritas.

The Parentis Foundation was founded in 2016 when its for-profit affiliate, Parentis Health, sought another way to involve seniors in the community, according to Petrova. The company focuses on continuity of care for senior citizens like residential or hospice care.

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

Frechette-Artinger said volunteers work with students in a swath of communities from Santa Ana to San Clemente. The program has provided services to at least 800 students, offered at least 20,000 tutoring sessions and clocked more than 40,000 hours from 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)

Rancho Santa Margarita resident Chris Johnston said he’s been a part of the program since day one.

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

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

“I look at literacy as the No. 1 road block of any level of success. If you can’t read, you can’t do anything,” said Johnston, adding that tutors don’t just read with students but work through a structured system of books that increase with difficulty. “I’ll be a tutor as long as I can get up in the morning. It’s just a great, great program.

“Our very first tutoring time was with the Boys & Girls Club of [Capistrano] Valley here in Rancho Santa Margarita. There weren’t a lot of us. There were just a few of us, and now I think we have over a 100 or some odd tutors.”

Frechette-Artinger said the tournament will be accepting entries for two-person teams until Friday, July 15. Interested readers can sign up at parentisfoundation.org/pickleball.

“This tournament is really going to go toward the sustainability of serving the nine different school and after-school programs that we’re already in,” said Frechette-Artinger.

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