Each month, we will bring to you the top 10 highlights that we receive each month about how fans, youth football coaches and teachers just like you are out in the community volunteering!
- Each year, the American Youth Football organization hosts a leadership conference for all the member league Directors and Commissioners, which also includes an awards presentation. The Cleveland Muni League was selected as the winner for the AYF Giving Back Award for their dedication and commitment to volunteerism in the Cleveland community. This award recognizes what the teams are doing off the field including service to community as well as their achievements academically. American Youth Football & Cheer is centered around community and at its core is the Circle of Giving. Giving Back is a motto and a creed, whether it's helping other members in the wake of natural disasters, by donating money, holiday presents to families affected in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or donating equipment to leagues throughout the world in an effort to expand the game of football, AYF members help those within and outside the organization. In order to be considered for the AYF Giving Back Award, the Cleveland Muni –League worked tirelessly to volunteer in the community when they weren't practicing. Teams came together to make a tremendous impact on individuals in need in the heart of the city. The youth ages 6-14 rallied together to #give1o in the community. They worked to feed families over the holidays with hot meals, volunteered with the Famicos foundation, distributed meals to the homeless, collaborated with the Lutheran Men's Ministry to help males get back on their feet and finally they visited senior citizen's homes to spread some youthful cheer and keep the residents company.
- Melinda Dragomier has begun a nonprofit in Massillon called God's Tiny Angels Support Group. This Christian organization serves the communities in Stark County. They were founded in 2004, providing support to families who have experienced the loss of an infant child through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or infant death and those facing infertility. They have a monthly support group that meets and is free and open to the public. At each meeting they do projects that raise awareness and promote healing. Some are therapeutic like painting rocks with inspirational pictures and messages or creating sympathy cards that would be sent to families who recently lost a child. They've painted ornaments and given them to families who have experienced this around the holidays and delivered them to hospitals with their outreach arm called Angels in Action to go out into the community. Melinda has started an annual walk-a-thon event and fundraiser that helps support grieving families throughout the year by financing cremation or funeral services. Thanks to the monetary donations of supporters, they've been able to help every family who has needed financial assistance.
- Another football team that's concerned about the community where they play is the Lake Erie College Storm. The coach of the Lake Erie football team, Thomas Swilley was a leader at the school ensuring that student athletes understood the importance of giving back to the community with any opportunity they could. He has created a culture within the program that boasts volunteerism. He has charged each member of his team to give back to the local community whenever and however they can. Swilley and some team members will be joining the Special Olympics Play 60 Festival as volunteers this Spring, helping guide youth of all abilities through football drills and stations over the course of a morning clinic. The event falls during the school appointed Spring Break, but many members of his leadership core are making the extra effort to attend and give back at this event. Creating a bond off the field is just as important to performing well once they face opponents. He understands the importance of lifting others up and he hopes this spirit of giving back permeates throughout athletics department, campus and surrounding community.
- Reilee DuPratt is a student at Cleveland State University who is passionate about staying fit and healthy, but also getting others involved in volunteering. She is on the Cleveland State Women's Soccer Team and she wanted to find another opportunity for the group to give back. Building team chemistry and getting out in the community, they are able to begin a lasting tradition for squads that come in behind them as well as setting a standard for other teams at the school to uphold. Last year they volunteered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank helping pack bags for youth whose families may not be able to afford food on the weekends as well as repacking canned goods that are donated to be distributed at food bank partner agencies which support those in need across six counties. They've also had the opportunity to help the Cleveland Metroparks remain a pristine outdoor recreation space for all who use it throughout the year.
- Beth Hofacker leads a group of Girl Scouts in the city of Copley. She is building up fearless young leaders who have developed various skillsets during their scouting tenure. One of those very valuable components is volunteerism. Giving back is a key pillar in their curriculum. Beth has it down to a science, setting up periodic opportunities with agencies that the girls feel comfortable with and are age appropriate. One example of this is St. Mary School, the troop volunteers once each week tutoring students in various subjects after school. This is a sacrifice as they must set time out aside to complete their own homework as well as guide younger students through theirs. They've also put their creativity skills to the test by getting artsy and making decorations for the residents at a Hospice Care Center. This brightens their days to see the smiles and laughter of the girls as well as bringing some color and light into their current situations. Finally, the group volunteers at their own school with the Parent Teacher Student Association, Kiwanis and their local church doing various tasks for events and services.
- Fred Courtright is a member of an organization called Voices for Children they represent abused and neglected children with the Lorain County domestic relations court. They provide free training and guidance through the entire process. The drug crisis increases the need for additional volunteers, so they are always looking for people with a heart for children who truly want to make a difference. The organization researches the cases and make recommendations to the court as to what they feel is in the best interests of the child (ren). Background checks are required and are provided to all volunteers in the program. Training classes for incoming 2019 volunteers begin Saturdays in March. Fred and his colleague Ed have helped many children and they encourage others to do the same. Get involved with something you care about and that's where you'll make the biggest impact.
- Sylvia Brown is a devoted volunteer who focuses mainly on youth development. She knows that youth are going to be making the decisions in a few short years, so she looks to empower them to make the correct ones. She prides herself on giving back to her local I community in many ways. She volunteers as the PTO president which comes with a lot of responsibility – keeping the organization on schedule, planning meetings and events, being in charge of a board of people, managing parents and more. One of her favorite events that she had the pleasure of being part of was roller skating during the fabulous and exciting Winter Wonderland that was hosted right at the school. She also is involved with a girls mentoring program every Monday after school, serving 4th and 5th graders. These girls are in a pivotal time in their young lives where they are exposed to so much information and need to continue to have their self-esteem built up, so Sylvia is there to help guide and mold during this period of their adolescence. She also volunteers for the Alzheimer's Longest Day in June, where people all across the world give back during some type of fundraising activity, helping shine a light in the darkness of Alzheimer's.
- Amy Beichler is a huge animal advocate. The Public Animal Welfare Society and there are nearly 300 volunteers that give back alongside her as she champions animal health and safety. It's really fun and rewarding for her because she has the opportunity to educate children on kindness to animals. They have also begun educating others on the process of rescuing stray animals across Northeast Ohio so that both the rescuer and rescued are able to function optimally once paired. Amy has been part of spearheading an arm of the organization that fights for stronger animal cruelty laws and lower cost spay and neuter clinics so those who may not have much but the love of an animal, can receive those services. It is a saint's work that she and her fellow animal lovers are doing, and it is fairly time consuming, but she believes wholeheartedly in saving the lives of the little furry friends that many call family.
- Eli Gough is a 4th grade student at Lakeview Elementary who plays flag football. He is proud of his team because they had a successful season and had a chance to travel out to Orlando to play in a flag football tournament. His coach says that they work hard on the field and are also rewarded for being on honor roll at school. His league: Next Level Athletics worked to collect and distribute more than 200 turkeys in the community over the holidays. They have also planned and held other events throughout the year in order to raise funds to get the whole team to the tournament. It's been a lot of work, but he's excited about continuing to work even harder and start earlier to achieve his goals this year.
- Dr. Jessica Burger is a physical therapist who just completed her doctorate's degree at The Ohio State University. She is now working in Akron, Ohio helping patients in need and teaching them new techniques to help them function in their everyday lives. It is fun for her to meet new people each day, but her ultimate goal is to open up a clinic in the country of Rwanda. She has teamed up with an organization in the country to make sure that a new cultural norm is widely known throughout the country 'disability is not inability.' She lives by that motto and has planned two fundraisers for the organization to hire a full-time doctor for the program for at least two years as well as programming that will be beneficial to the patients they serve. One fundraiser was a reverse raffle and auction at a local bar and grille and the second fundraiser is a one-day volleyball tournament in Southern Ohio that boasts 15 co-ed teams.
Interested in signing up your volunteer group for First and Ten? Group forms available! Click here to learn more about how to #give10
Follow @BrownsGiveBack on Twitter and Instagram and tell us what you are doing to help others using #give10 to unite us all as Browns fans. Give 10 hours, help your community.
The Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Since its inception, Browns fans have committed to volunteering more than 2 million hours to impact their communities by pledging to #give10. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10