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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Special Populations Tennis Program Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Special Olympics, Sports

Mission: Enriching the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through the lifetime sport of tennis. "The game we teach is tennis, but the lessons learned are real life."

Results: Host of largest adaptive tennis match play event in the USA for 7 years First USTA-sanctioned adaptive tennis unified doubles league for people with intellectual disabilities in the USA From 60 special athletes at 3 sites in 2005, we served 600 special athletes at 15 sites in metro Atlanta in 2012

Programs: Free training and equipment; USTA-sanctioned league play; competitive match play at all levels; nutrition education; social interaction

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter began playing tennis with Special Pops when it first opened it's doors. I also began volunteering at that time. My experience as parent, partner, umpire, coach, site coordinator and SPUD captain has be extremely rewarding. The wonderful people running this program work tirelessly to make a life-changing environment for our athletes. My daughter's experiences have been unparalleled. The opportunities she has gotten to make friends and travel and participate with a variety of people have enriched her life. Congratulations, Special Pops, on being such a top-rate organization. And thank you so much for all your hard work!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Special Pops Tennis-Savannah is tennis-PLUS! I coach and also play as a partner with my son, Nick. It not only provides a great tennis experience but it also is a wonderful social outlet for making new friends. Over the course of a season, it is easy to see self-esteem increasing in our athletes along with their tennis skills. It is a fabulous experience for athletes and volunteers.

JGuarton

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When I learned about Special Pops Tennis I was so impressed with the outreach of the organization to offer adaptive tennis programs that I wanted to help grow their awareness! As an Atlanta Business Chronicle Account Executive that works with nonprofits, I met Jim Hamm, the Founder and Executive Director to work on a marketing plan to the readers of the Chronicle. The organization is so fantastic that I continue to talk about it in my community and to those that I meet who I think that can benefit. I'm often surprised how many people who have not heard of Special Population Tennis (even those that serve the same community) that I urge those reading this to continue to spread the word!! This organization directly improves the lives of those it serves!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since becoming a coach with Special Pops in Savannah, I have a heightened awareness of the joy and sense of belonging that this program brings to the participants. It is inspirational to see athletes of various ages and abilities rally around each other as they learn the sport of tennis. Their bubbling enthusiasm is contagious. The word quit has no place in their world. Programs like Special Pops lifts everyone up, athletes and coaches alike. This program teaches us all how to be better human beings. Chuck K.

Denise K.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter, Kelly, has been a part of Special Pops for many years now. In September of 2011 she became ill and was not able to participate in tennis for a while. Just this past October we found out all is well. Kelly wanted to participate and be a part of the Fall Tournament even though she had not picked up a racquet in a long time. Of course, Special Pops told her to come and participate in play, volunteer or just be there for support of her fellow players. Kelly decided to play Unified doubles with Ellen Bierbaum, who was one of the many wonderful and caring volunteers of Special Pops. Kelly played against Demi and Laura that weekend and their concern for Kelly was evident in their kind words and gestures. Kelly did not win her matches that weekend and she broke down crying but she said not because she lost but because her joints were hurting her. I also think it was a year's worth of built up feelings and worry. I could not have asked for a better place for Kelly to come to terms with her feelings. Special Pops is more than just tennis. It is also a great lesson in sharing and caring for others whether it be athlete, volunteer, organizer, parent or friend. Thank you so very much for what you give our children. Denise Kettles, Proud mother of Kelly Kettles.

Pat Lynch

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Special Pops is - in a word - special. What they do is bring together the special needs community and the mainstream population under the banner of tennis and comraderie. As a volunteer I have found the most important take away for me has been the strong friendships that I have made with many of the athletes that I have worked with. I have been blessed many times over for being a part ofSpecial Pops.

ellen

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for several years at Emory and at the fall classic, and I enjoy it more every year. The athletes are wonderful, and it is such a pleasure to be able to partner with them as a unified doubles coach. So much fun. I look forward to both of these events every year. You get to know the athletes on a personal level at these events, and it is always inspiring to me. They help me as much as I help them as I see excellent sportsmanship demonstrated, and friendships renewed. I love tennis and these events enable me to see the joy it brings to the athletes and to myself as we play this great game together.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Special Pops Tennis has been a life changer for not only all the athletes involved, but for all the volunteers that participate (me included).

Client Served

Rating: 5

Special Pops Tennis, begun by a woman with a passion for tennis and a heart for the disabled, has set afire the hearts of tennis lovers across the State of Georgia. My son is only one of the 600 disabled participants in Special Pops Tennis programs staffed by these skilled, dedicated volunteers. Over the last three years I have watched him learn to play a game he hardly knew; grow to love that game as his skills became stronger, and grow personally in ways that these amazing people have made possible. Special Pops takes a profound personal interest in every athlete. They are dedicated to creating a positive, enriching experience for every participant: athletes, volunteers, and families. My son and I are truly blessed to have become a part of the Special Pops family.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to volunteer with Special Pops over the last couple of years, as a umpire at the past two Special Olympics (held at Emory University) and at the last two Special Pops Fall Classics. This fall, I assisted with the Special Pops skills challenge and attended their annual fundraiser for the first time, and I've also worked as a coach leading up to the Special Olympics events. I highly recommend this organization and its activities to anyone who desires to combine their passions for tennis and service. It is both fun and rewarding to work with the athletes, and the Special Pops organization is comprised of the nicest people. The events are always well organized.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our daughter has just finished her first fall tennis sessions. She absolutely enjoyed this experience. Her comments were that she felt accepted and the instructors were really nice and fun. Thank you for offering this great opportunity to her. She has found a group that has encouraged her to feel great about excercise and about her abilities!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Awesome organization. I have been fortunate to be allowed to be a volunteer for this organization in some form or another for over 12 years. From a first time helper, to a ball person, umpire, sponsor, unified partner, and a coach. As long as I am able I will continue to give my time, money and heart to be around this great group of volunteers, and athletes. I've had, family members, friends and teammates volunter also. You get so much more back than you give. Keep up the great work!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been fortunate to participate in Special Pops Tennis. Sharing their passion for tennis - the volunteers who work with the athletes have provided a "bridge" the helps children and adults with disabilities connect with each other as well as make friends in the community. All ability levels are encouraged - everyone feels successful. My daughter has autism - and participating in Special Pops Tennis has been the best experience of her life. She has made friends - an enormous accomplishment for her!! Her world has been "expanded" - she has played in tournaments here in Atlanta as well as in South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama - and she has made friends in all those places!! My husband and I take great pleasure in watching all the athletes and help in any way that we can.

Etrudy M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a mom of an athlete and a site manger, I just want to say thank you for both sides of the coin. Thank you for the patience with my daughter. It took her 5 years to make to Fall Tournament - 2012. Thank you also for allowing me to be a part of the "greatest" organization (i.e. family) in the world. Planning and execution of competition can be difficult but we pull it off each tme. Kudos to Jim, Jeanie, Paula, Martha, Vicki, Bill and the rest of the Special Pops Tennis organization. EMitchell

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had heard several good things about Special Pops Tennis through a few tennis team mates of mine that volunteer. I have been wanting to share my love for tennis, so I thought Special Pops would be a good place to start. The night after my first volunteer practice, I called my team mate to let her know what a fun and rewarding time I had just had. Since then, I look forward to the weekly practice and seeing all the athletes come with smiles on their faces. Special Pops Tennis is an amazing organization teaching many adults and children to enjoy tennis. The energy, the postitive attitudes, the organization of the practices and tournaments, and especially the group of board members that run this have very much impressed me. I am so happy to be a part of this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked as an umpire, coach during practice sessions, unified partner and chaperone and every time I see the happiness on the athletes face, it reminds me of how great of an organization Special Pops truly is. It provides the athletes with an opportunity to get out, get some excercise, spend time with others and enjoy a sport that is something they can enjoy for years to come. I am so happy to of gotten involved and look forward to future opportunities to spend time with Special Pops.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I remember my first session as a volunteer site coordinator. I had a few athletes attend. One of these athletes was a young girl that has down syndrome. Her mom indicated that she did not think her daughter would be able to hit the ball but that she had heard about the program and wanted to try. I informed her that with the appropriate equipment and modifications that she would likely be hitting by the end of the session. This little girl's dad is a tennis player as well. SO, by the end of the session, sure enough, she was able to hit a tennis ball- several tennis balls. The first thing she said to her mom when she got off of the court was- "now I can go play tennis with daddy." I teared up with great tears of happiness. What a great day that was. Now we have well over 30 athletes that come to this site.

Tim_17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Special Pops is an outstanding organization. It provides an adaptive tennis program and opportunities for those people with intellectual disabilities. The athletes have a chance to compete with their peers in a safe and fun atmosphere. We love Special Pops!

Martha

Board Member

Rating: 5

Enriching the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities through the lifetime sport of tennis is the mission of Atlanta, GA-based nonprofit Special Populations Tennis Program, Inc. (“Special Pops Tennis”). A 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 2005 by a group of tennis enthusiasts with a passion for giving back, this group provides an adaptive tennis program that takes people with intellectual disabilities from beginner to tournament level players. Their motto is “The game we teach is tennis, but the lessons learned are real life.” Through teaching and competitive play, social interaction and education, volunteers serve as coaches, partners, umpires, chaperones and mentors, striving to build not only tennis skills, but also life skills. Programs include weekly tennis instruction, nutrition education, USTA-sanctioned league play, and match-play competition. A tennis player for years, I have been involved with this group since it began. When I retired, it became my full time “job” and I can honestly say that it is the most fun and rewarding tennis experience that I have had. I receive far more than I give every time I step on the court with these special players.