Monday, August 02, 2010

The 2010 Washington Nationals Dream Foundation's NatsTown Green-Up

"I think we are now on people's minds," believes Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, Chair of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. "I can’t say yet that we have sustained some organizations that in the past couple of years, might not have made it due to the financial climate, but we’ve tried to be out there and be available to those organizations. Yet, there is still so much more to be done."

Mrs. Tanenbaum was standing on the grounds of The Henson Center. The headquarters for the Earth Conservation Corp. The non-profit youth development and environmental service organization dedicated to restoring the Anacostia River and the surrounding community. The very neighborhood in which Our Washington Nationals play their home games at Nationals Park. The 2nd Washington Nationals Dream Foundation NatsTown Green-Up was in full swing. For the second year in a row, the charitable arm of Washington's Major League Baseball Team sponsored a clean-up of the SE/SW community near the South Capitol Street Ballpark.

In 2009, the focus of the first NatsTown Green-Up was the Anacostia River. 2010 centered on the neighborhood grounds. The ECC's Henson Center, Diamond Teague Park & Marina, the Heliport, 1st & Q Streets and 1st & 3rd Streets (both in SW) were the targeted areas. Over 150 volunteers (nearly twice as many as last year) showed up for the Friday, July 30th event's 8:45AM start. Front Office and Guest Service Staff from Our Washington Nationals were joined by Alion Science & Technology Staff, a handful of Nationals Fans, as well as, Federal and Military employees.

"This is so great for us because we are so centered on the ballpark sometimes," continued Marla Tanenbuam, "that it’s just great to come out in the neighborhood. In fact, I love this neighborhood. It’s a little jewel in Washington."

The 150 or so volunteers were formed into five groups and assigned Green-Up work in the five designated locations. For three hours, trash and debris was collected and pulled from the various sites. At the conclusion, Waste Management picked up all the filled to the brim black trash bags and disposed of them properly. At the Henson Center, grass was mowed, trees trimmed and mulched while overgrown bushes were cut back. An effort that has brought a fresh focus to a once blighted and forgotten area of The Nation's Capital.

"What The Nationals have done is increase the awareness of the ECC and this community," stated Annette Gantt, CEO & President of The Earth Conservation Corp. "By partnering with us, they have helped the ECC bring in more corporate sponsorships. They have helped to improve this community and they have assisted us greatly here at The Henson Center in getting the word out about our programs. They are terrific partners."

During The 2nd Washington Nationals Dream Foundation NatsTown Green-Up, Nationals Pitchers Doug Slaten and Collin Balester joined many of the volunteers, helping out in mulching trees at The Henson Center and providing their assistance--which also included plenty of photo ops.

"First of all, this is just a nice thing to do (for the area surrounding the ballpark) and the visibility of having players like us out here might bring a little bit more attention to the work that is going on," stated Slaten. "It’s for the benefit of others. it’s a good deed. And it's really important. There are always a lot of people that do stuff behind the scenes that don’t get any recognition. Many like that are out here today. Growing up by the beach in California, I am part of the Surf Rider Foundation and they do similar type of stuff out there."

Interestingly, fellow Californian Balester is a supporter of Players For The Planet. A nationwide organization that encourages kids and their families to save the earth by being more environmentally friendly in their daily lives.

After all the picking up of trash, hauling of debris, cutting of grass, mulching of trees and pruning that could be accomplished in the just over three hours allotted this past Friday morning--all participants were invited back to Nationals Park for a lunch provided by Hard Times Cafe. Sitting in the picnic area on the main concourse behind Section 142, Our Manager Jim Riggleman stopped by to personally thank everyone for their volunteer service. All volunteers also receiving a special NatsTown Green-Up Tee Shirt, Red Curly "W" Sport Bottle, and two tickets to the Sunday August 1st game versus The Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park for their contributions to the day's efforts.

But as Mrs. Tanenbaum stated earlier, the community involvement is far from done.

"The awareness builds up every year, concluded Marla Lerner Tanenbaum. "We are getting more inquiries, more people stop at the kiosk. That sort of thing is building up. I feel like we (The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation) build up with the team. As the team goes, so do we in some respects. And in other respects it takes a while for people to know you are here to stay. This Foundation is not a flash in the pan. I think we are on the minds of a lot of non-profits now. And when the Baseball Academy opens, hopefully next year, and the Diabetes Complex opens, we will resonate within the community to a much greater extent."

"And that's when they start truly believing in you."

P.S. Sunday, August 1st was Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Day at Nationals Park. Part of the day's proceedings included an On-The-Field recognition of Green-Up Volunteers. After a short video was shown on the HDTV Scoreboard, those volunteers wishing to participate gathered near home plate and were announced to the crowd before the start of the game.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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