D.C. United's mission is to "win championships, and serve the community." To help win championships, the coaches and staff look for talented players. To help serve, the club has both an active Community Relations department but it also started a charitable arm called United for D.C. And, when players and our community efforts come together, D.C. United is at its best.
Since joining the Black-and-Red last season, midfielder Perry Kitchen has embraced the Club’s mission, “I know for this organization, with our motto, 'win championships and serve the community' we've got to, not only live up to the first one, but we can control the second part of that. So that's what we're trying to do."
"I think it's huge to be in the position we are as players and the way we can influence people,” adds team veteran Chris Pontius. “To give back to the community is something that I love to do."
UNITED FOR D.C.
Now in its tenth year, United for D.C. has various community-minded programs. One such effort is to improve literacy among DC children and to promote overall healthy lifestyles. Through United Reads, players and volunteers will visit six DC schools throughout the year and donate over 10,000 books.
Virginia native Bill Hamid has been a regular at United Reads events over the years, “They do a great job of getting to these elementary schools in inner-DC and giving kids the opportunity to enjoy themselves."
Hamid specifically recalls the work he’s done with students at Ketcham Elementary school, “It's been a pleasure to work with those kids, and day in and day out seeing the smiles and seeing that they enjoy the game of soccer. Just being there so they have something to do after school has been a big pleasure of mine.”
D.C. United also pays regular visits to local hospitals with wounded soldiers, children with disabilities, and those living with serious illnesses. For Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Saragosa, these events really stick out, “I know they need more support to grow and to live better. So for me it's a big opportunity, it's my pleasure to come and help a little bit. I keep that always in my heart.”
"The hospital visits always kind of hit you hard,” seconds Kitchen. “It's terrible to see sick children in there; you never want to see that. But to go in there and talk with them and have fun with them, it always brightens their day. You can tell they're having a great time and that it means a lot. Those always kind of touch me in a way, it's pretty special."
"YOU GET TO BE WITH THE FANS"
Local community leaders regularly compliment the club on its service. But for staff and players, the motivation to serve the community is all about giving and not receiving. “You get to be with the fans too," explained Chris Pontius, "the people who support you throughout the year that you don’t necessarily get to thank enough.”
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