Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation

When Major League Baseball and The District of Columbia committed to bringing Baseball to Washington, MLB and the subsequent Owner of Our Washington Nationals--The Lerner's--also pledged to devout themselves to an off the field charity for families and children in and around Our Nation's Capital. That community involvement has evolved into The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Targeted projects include the building of a DC based Youth Baseball Academy and a Pediatric Diabetes Care Center at the Children's National Medical Center.

Those efforts are just the beginning chapters of a long term journey combining Our Washington Nationals teaming with other community organizations and corporations to assist those in need around Washington, DC. Just this past Thursday, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation received their first real pledge of recurring donations--when Gifford's Ice Cream and Candy Stores announced 15% of all proceeds for their New Nationals Park Signature Item--"THE DINGER"--would be donated to assist The Foundation in reaching their goals.

Principal Owner of Our Washington Nationals and Chair of The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, was in attendance at Gifford's to give thanks for their support. And, she took time to speak with me, not only about Gifford's promise--but The Foundation's commitments moving forward in years to come.

With that, here we go with My Conversation with Marla Lerner Tanenbaum.

What does Gifford’s and their signature product for Nationals Park do for The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation? (SBF)

“The Dinger means a lot. First of all, I wanted to be associated with Gifford’s. I grew up on Gifford’s. My parents use to go to Gifford’s on dates; it’s such a Washington Institution. So, I love this association. The Nationals as an institution have now added another great Washington Landmark in Gifford’s to our operation.”

“Also, 15% of all the proceeds go directly to The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. This is great publicity for us and good income for the charity.”

Are there any other products being developed for Nationals Park with other vendors-with ties of proceeds to The Foundation? (SBF)

“I was just talking with someone about that this afternoon. I really hope so. We are working on it.”

But, this is the first one? (SBF)

“Yes, this is the first one, so this one will always be near and dear.”

In the past, where has all The Foundation’s money come from? (SBF)

“We work hard for it!!” (Donations entirely? —SBF). “We have our Gala and are developing different ways. Merchandising is now underway on the web.” (I saw the ties on the website—SBF) “The ties are cute!! They are great!! (Laughing). We are going to have a tie just for the Inaugural—the Opening of Nationals Park. Also, we are going to have baseball’s signed—have them auctioned off or sold—whatever is the best option.”

I would buy that ball, and maybe the tie. (SBF)

“They (the autographed baseballs) are a no brainer!! Also, I can’t tell you how many different ties we have developed. It’s just that no one has agreed on one (to go with). There has been a great deal of discussion on this topic.”

Recently, I read that The Foundation will have their Gala over at The New National Harbor Center (in PG County), is that still a go? (SBF)

“Yes, we are definitely doing the event there.”

Actually, I have never really understood how some could complain about a Charity Event where the District of Columbia is the benefactor, the venue is now free and, which in the long run—means greater funds are available for the charity? (SBF)

“I understand the DC Government’s point of view, but from my point of view (as Foundation Chair), it was a no brainer (to have the event at National Harbor Center). And, it would have been irresponsible financially and otherwise for me to say no to that kind of an offer. It is very generous of Gaylord (Owner of National Harbor Center); they have been fantastic in every way in assistance. Really it would be irresponsible to walk away—to pay out over $300,000 to a hotel when someone else can do that for free.”

I agree with you on that fact. (SBF)

“Remember, now all that money is going to go toward moving The Foundation forward.”

Going back to Gifford’s, is this an open-end agreement (on “The Dinger”)? How long does the proceeds part of the deal run? (SBF)

“I think its open ended right now. Knowing Neal Lieberman (CEO—Gifford’s), he will do this project for as long as it’s viable.”

Anything else you can tell me about The Foundation that is going on? (SBF)

“A lot is going on. The Youth Baseball Academy, we are working on that. The Secretary of The Interior has been fantastic in pushing to get that site approved. (This is the Fort Dupont Park one? —SBF) Yes, Fort Dupont Park, exactly. We are working hard on that. There are some other initiatives in the works. We have a meeting next week and hope to have some big announcements soon."

On The Academy at Fort Dupont Park, is money for that project, a one time spending deal? Or, is more money added each year to keep it going? (SBF)

“Once we open you mean?” (Yeah, SBF) “Over there on the other end of the rainbow.” (Both of us chuckling) We have a 10 Year Obligation, The Nationals, to put in $250,000 per year for 10 years. That’s our baseline contribution, but we are about to hire a team to do the strategic planning, programming, fund raising—so we can really push this along to get it open (The Academy). We are pushing.”

How soon might it open? This year? (SBF)

“No, not this year. It would be nice to break ground this year, but more realistically, more likely 2009. We have to do an environmental assessment. That’s going to be eight months. The why things are working, ground break will probably be 2009.”

“I feel my primary job is to keep pushing—KEEP PUSHING. I have a sense of urgency about it. If you don’t have that (drive), it will never happen.”

“Another thing we will have at the ballpark is a Community Wall. Fans can buy a baseball—put their name on that ball—and it will be displayed forever at the ballpark.”
(Really, I can imagine a lot of interest in that, sort of like buying naming bricks at various buildings—SBF) “Yes, but we don’t like the bricks. (There are no bricks in the ballpark, its all concrete—SBF) “Right, I don’t like it when people walk all over your donation. This will be on a wall—A Community Wall.”

That’s a decent idea. Any idea what the donation cost will be? (SBF)

“We are still working on that, any suggestions?” (How about starting at $50 bucks? —SBF)

(Both of us now laughing) “Okay, depending on the contribution, that can decide how prominent your name is displayed.” (Oh, I hear that—SBF—chuckling).

I am sure $1000 will go a long way!! (SBF)

“Oh yeah, (smiling, nodding her head up and down—enjoying the fun of the moment), that will go a long way!! It will be there for all eternity—I guess.”

Where in the park might this Community Wall be? (SBF)

“Not really sure, I am going to have to get back to you on that.”

I can’t imagine any baseball fan not wanting to have their name on the stadium (SBF).

“Right. RIGHT! (Agreeing). I have seen some great designs. The Dodgers do something similar. (In the Curly W Logo maybe with some red and white—SBF). No, not with The Curly W logo. But, there will be some color coding."

"That reminds me of my contribution to Gifford’s in the ballpark. Neal (Lieberman, CEO Gifford’s) said he would have Red and Blue Sprinkles in the ballpark (for the ice cream). And, that was my idea.” (Ah--Ha!! There you go—SBF) Smiling—“Yeah, there you go.”

How about Red, White & Blue Ice Cream? (SBF)

“No, Neal said he couldn’t do that. He will not be developing a blue ice cream. Neal is an ALL—NATURAL GUY!! (Both of us busting out laughing).

Yeah, he’s not going to throw in the garbage. (SBF)

“Yes, the garbage.”

Anything else? (SBF)

“No, I’m good, but that was fun.”

Yes, it was. Nice seeing you again. Thank You. (SBF)

“No, Thank You for all your efforts, you’re fun.”

That concludes My Conversation with Marla Lerner Tanenbaum.

Off the field, working within your community is important. Helping others to benefit and change their lives for the better is a noble cause--no matter who you are. Many times, in this day and age, people are so busy in their everyday lives--they sometimes forget others may not have it so well. So, It's nice to know that Our Washington Nationals are making a serious effort, helping those that need assistance in the Washington, DC area. The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation is a good cause.

Now, how many of you are going to buy a baseball, with your name on it, for the kids? Really, I like that idea.

I also like the Inaugural Tie--as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info and I too love Gifford's and they closed the store on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray! - boo hoo Biff