If you look deeper into the activities of the LGBT sports teams in Washington, you’ll find that they’re all donating money to local and national nonprofits. Just a few examples would be the long history of giving by the D.C. Front Runners, D.C. Aquatics Club, Stonewall Sports and the Federal Triangles Soccer Club.
One thing that might not be as well known is that the LGBT sports teams are also showing up in person to engage in hands-on work with nonprofits. The importance of the work they are doing isn’t lost on either side.
“We put our volunteers through orientation which includes a look at our facets of service along with gender and sexuality training,” says Sarah Beasley, director of operations and volunteer coordinator at SMYAL. “The training helps to foster a vested interest in our organization.”
Since its inception in 2010, Stonewall Kickball has been working in the community with organizations such as Friends of Stead Park and Whitman Walker. Recently they volunteered to put new furniture together at SMYAL’s transitional house for homeless LGBT youth.
“It was the first time that I had worked directly with the LGBT community and it was a great experience,” says Nick Jordan of Stonewall Kickball. “We ended up going back a second time to finish up the work.”
The experience led to Stonewall Kickball volunteering at the SMYAL Fall Brunch where they set up floral arrangements.
“Compared to just giving money, it’s really important for us to be involved in the community. A lot of people join the leagues because they are disconnected,” Jordan says. “This is a stepping stone to becoming connected to the other aspects of what makes up our community.”
One of the goals of Anthony Scheller’s presidency of the Washington Scandals RFC has been to address more philanthropy. Through his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, 10 rugby players signed up to volunteer for National Rebuilding Day.
“We went to the home of a 91-year-old woman who was having trouble getting around,” Scheller says. “We installed handrails, elevated toilet seats, painted, cleaned, poured concrete, repaired her fence and installed smoke detectors.”
The Scandals have also been up to Stoystown, Pa., where they washed windows at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Gay rugby player Mark Bingham died on the flight in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
“This work has been important for our team because it gives us the opportunity to accomplish something together that goes beyond our original mission statement,” Scheller says. “This is work we will continue to do in the future.”
In each of the last six seasons, the D.C. Gay Flag Football League has taken a weekend off for what they call their day of service. The four league conferences break apart with each one doing different work in the community.
“Our players are mostly affluent working professionals who are helping to bridge entirely different communities,” says Brian Hotchkiss, commissioner of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League.
Their work includes clothing drives along with repairs and maintenance at Casa Ruby, Food & Friends service and football clinics and park restoration at Edgewood Park.
“As opposed to giving money, there is something exponentially different in interfacing with someone who is benefitting from what you are doing,” Hotchkiss says. “You are more likely to give back if you have a connection. These days of service allow that connection.”