Some community service projects sponsored by the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation take years to develop. Whether its fundraising for a world-class diabetes care clinic for children or developing a baseball academy for disadvantaged youth, making an impact takes time.
But sometimes, one small project can also make a big difference. Just a few hours of service time can have a lasting and visible effect on the community.
That was the case today as the Nationals hosted their 2nd annual "Green-Up" with the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC). Over 100 volunteers joined Doug Slaten and Collin Balester for the event at the Matthew Henson Center across the street from Nationals Park on Friday morning to clean up the neighborhood surrounding the ballpark. It was part of the Nationals Dream Foundation's Neighborhood Initiative which aims to revitalize the SW/SE area in Washington.
"With the Neighborhood Initiative, you see results right away, so it's really gratifying," said Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, who oversees the Dream Foundation.
Tanenbaum helped to mow the lawn while Slaten and Balester worked on spreading mulch around plants and trees. Other volunteers assisted with restoration projects in several additional neighborhoods surrounding Nationals Park.
"Obviously, being from California, it's one of those things where you want to help the environment in any way that you can," said Balester. "It's good to be out here showing that you care about the world."
Balester is also involved with Players for the Planet, an association of professional athletes supporting environmental efforts and education throughout the country.
"It's important to know that we care about this too," Balester continued.
Earth Conservation Corps president Annette Gantt said participation in this year's event doubled over last year. The Nationals continue to generate exposure for the nonprofit group which trains troubled youth in environmental recovery for the Anacostia River and their neighborhoods.
"Since they've built this stadium, they've been such a great corporate citizen," said Gantt. "It helps to broaden awareness about the condition of the Anacostia River...and the young people who we serve are from some of the most disadvantaged communities in the district. So, having the Nationals involved creates broad awareness. Having the players come and spend time here says a lot about their genuine care for what happens in their community."
In addition to the exposure, the Nationals also work with other sponsors to generate resources for the ECC to expand their programs and outreach in the community.
"We can't do it alone," Gantt continued. "Having the Dream Foundation always in our corner advocating for us has been tremendous."
Fans can get involved with corporate donations, group service projects or even volunteer as an individual. The ECC routinely cleans up the Anacostia River and nearby trails and parks. Gantt also encourages fans to make smart "green" decisions in their daily lives by using public transportation, recycling, conserving energy and water and being more mindful of decisions that impact the community around you.
More pictures from today's event are available on MASN's Facebook page.