Manthena inspired by family for her charity work
As a little girl, Divya Manthena walked the streets of India and saw sights she would never forget.
“It really breaks my heart because there is so much poverty there,” Manthena said. “I remember when I was younger I would ask my parents why there are people lying on the floor because you don’t see that in America.
“That motivated me to do something, because you don’t want to see people suffer and not do anything about it. I started by giving people on the street money.”
Manthena developed from a young girl giving people money on the street, to a high school student organizing golf tournaments that would raise thousands of dollars for various causes.
She, along with her father Monte Manthena, started a non-profit organization named Krishak, which means farmer. She said the name was inspired by a growing trend in India in which farmers are committing suicide because monsoons are destroying their crops.
Divya Manthena earned the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award for her charity work. As part of the award, Manthena earned an exemption to the Rolex Tournament of Champions, which takes place July 8-12.
On the course, Divya admits she needs to work on her short game to complement her ability to hit the ball long. Off the course, she’s working to help others.
India stays close to Manthena’s heart because of her family background. She visits the country about every four years.
“I drew inspiration from my family,” Manthena said. “My great grandfather was a freedom fighter for India and my great grandmother started an orphanage in India. Just sharing their stories was really exciting to know that I come from such a successful family and a family that tries to help others.”
Said Monte Manthena: “When she goes to India, she sees the kid in the orphanage, so she has the exposure to see that we’re lucky to have what we have. If we can help, it’s a good thing. I could say she woke up and thought of all these things, but I’d be lying. She definitely had some influence of the family in her.”
While her inspiration is rooted in India, the branches of her charity have extended closer to home.
Divya Manthena’s first charity golf tournament was established to support the victims of a deadly tsunami in Japan in 2011. The next year, she worked to help the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
But her third and most successful tournament — she helped raise more than $15,000 — benefitted a charity that held personal relevance, the Special Olympics of Ventura County.
“Japan was great, but we don’t know where the money was going, or if the Red Cross was spending it well. St. Jude’s is fine, but we have never been there,” Monte Manthena said. “So Divya said ‘I want to do a tournament where I know the kids who are benefitting from it.’”
Divya Manthena has a passion for golf, but focuses on a balanced lifestyle. With less B’s in high school than fingers on her hand, Manthena knows that if golf doesn’t work out, she can impact people in other ways.
Her dream: To attend Brown University and eventually go to medical school.
“She loves kids and wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up,” Monte Manthena said. “Wherever she goes, she’ll try and make a difference for the school.”