Saturday, July 25, 2009

NFL Players Association Joins President Obama in Call To Service

I received a press release this week announcing that "The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which represents every NFL player, is teaming up with the Corporation for National and Community Service, to encourage Americans to answer the President and First Lady’s call to service and make a difference in their communities."

The partnership will include television public service announcements emphasizing the NFLPA’s support of the President's community service initiative. The PSA features more than 30 players from around the National Football League such as Drew Brees (New Orleans) and Brian Dawkins (Denver).

United We Serve is starting with an initial 81 day burst of service, culminating in a day of service and remembrance on September 11, but it will grow into a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to promote service as a way of life for all Americans. This initiative, which aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by steering new volunteers their way, and encourage new volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects, focuses on five key areas: education, health, energy and the environment, community renewal, and safety and security.

I encourage you to read El Da'Sheon Nix's blog. He uses sports analogies to make his point about how we need more than tutor/mentor volunteers to put a great team of the field. We need tech support, evaluation support, money and fund raising support, and so do all of the other tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago.

We've had several pro athletes visit Cabrini Connections this past year, and they offer great examples and pass on inspiring words of support. However, up till now few have reached out to donors, or into their own pockets, to provide the money that puts a tutor/mentor team on the field.

Maybe the President's partnership will change this. Maybe the NFL will point to United We Serve, or the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, in September when they are encouraging people to provide donations to workplace fund raising campaigns organized by the United Way.

There are a lot of non profits who are not United Way members. If NFL commercials encourage funding of tutor/mentor programs, and if companies open their campaigns to "donor choice", then many people who want to help kids might write in a tutor/mentor program for their donation.

That way the team going on the field, the volunteers that we're mobilizing, will be more likely to be supported by good equipment, good training, good coaching, and a good game plan.

That's the way to build winners.

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