We had the good fortune of connecting with kerry blum and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi kerry, what do you want your legacy to be?
My legacy is thousands of children who were able to improve their lives through community tennis programs that taught them how to be successful in school and in life. I hope my future legacy will expand to include thousands of Military warriors and the canine partners who rebuild their lives after injury and loss while protecting our Country. I want people to remember me as a kind and caring person dedicated to helping others.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 1989 when I was hired to run the After School Tennis program at Youth Tennis San Diego, I had no idea that it would lead me to 30 +years of involvement in the tennis world. I had run track in high school. Tennis was played with shoes that didn’t have cleats. Fortunately, I ran with my organizational skills and was able to successfully grow a grass roots program that used tennis to help student be successful in the classroom. Our after school program taught concentration and
listening skills, as well as how to hit a tennis ball. The students were taught teamwork and to follow directions. The program grew from 23 schools to over a hundred schools. Over 10,000 students participated in After School Tennis during my career at the Barnes Tennis Center. When I was promoted to the Executive Director position, I quickly learned that I had to delegate in order to successfully run the million dollar Barnes Tennis Center, as well as the grass roots programs. Suddenly, I was the boss and had 24 employees. I have never been a micro-manager. I look for skilled workers and let them successfully do what they do best. We were able to expand our programs, add clay courts, pickleball courts, and add an entire new classroom building. We started the first pre-school sports and learning center in San Diego. I am proud of the work we were able to do through grants and fund-raising that was necessary to keep our non-profit programs expanding. When it was time to move on, I had to find a new cause that I could be passionate about. Paws for Purple Hearts stole my heart immediately. Paws for Purple Hearts is the first organization of its kind to offer Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy. It began in 2006. We train assistance dogs and pair them with Veterans who have mobility issues, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress. The Canines help to improve the lives of their warriors.
Let’s face it–puppies and soldiers. How can you not be passionate about the cause? As San Diego’s new Regional Director of PPH, I hope that I can grow this program to its fullest.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Welcome to San Diego! 1) Sunday Drive across the Coronado bridge to the Hotel Del for brunch then to Downtown
Gaslamp, Horton Grand Hotel tour (the story of two hotels that became one—plus a haunted room)
, San Diego main library, Petco Park (Pick up sandwiches at Con Pane in Pt. Loma and eat sunset
dinner at Sunset Cliffs.) Try to hit the tide pools if timing is right.
2) Old Town walk through the early San Diego town site. Tour Casa Estudillo adobe house and
have lunch at Old town Tamale Factory. Then a quick drive by to see the Secret Topiary Garden.
3) Tuesday UCSD Stewart Sculpture Collection. (Do only the section located on the Jacob’s School
of Engineering.) There is a fabulous view of the library, Fallen Star, Bear, Trees, the Snake Path,
Vices and Virtures, and others. Tours of Fallen Star were suspended during covid, but might be
open again soon. Lunch at Caroline’s Seaside Cafe.
4) San Diego Zoo! Balboa Park Botanical building and Koi pond, and rose garden, Dinner at Casa
5) Breakfast at Kono’s on the Pacific Beach Pier then to La Jolla cove to see the seals, kyak tour of
the caves, walk through Galleries, dinner at the Marine Room. (BUT haven’t been since Chef
6) Hike at Torrey Pines, the Salk Institute, and Torrey Pines Hang glider Port . Finish with sunset at
7) (Sat) Little Italy Farmers Market, the Hidden bridges walk in Hillcrest.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Kathy Chabot Willette is my mentor and true friend. She has taught me about nonprofits, fundraising, education and leadership. Throughout her tennis career, Kathy always felt grateful for the help that had been given her by the tennis community and coaches and the San Diego Tennis Patrons. This led to her wanting to give back to the sport. And she has given back in a big way! Kathy has been involved in fundraising, strategic planning, and programming. Her proudest accomplishment is starting Youth Tennis San Diego’s Afterschool Tennis Program in 1989 that has served thousands of kids at as many as 120 sites throughout San Diego County. This same program continues, and one of its current successes is the wheel-chair tennis program. After being involved with World Team Tennis for over 20 years, the WTT named its scholarship essay program after her. Her community involvement also includes work with Say No to Drugs, Hall of Champions, Say Yes to Sports Program and the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego. Kathy has taken me under her wing providing mentorship, leadership and friendship. She taught me how to find balance in life!