In an event that featured a true combination of community service and team building, the Washington Mystics, on the afternoon of June 3rd, teamed up with Cup of Joe, an outreach program run by the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, to help feed the homeless and give back to their D.C. community.
This fast-paced event featured the entire team working together in assembly line fashion to package together as many healthy “breakfast to-go” bags as possible for those left hungry all too often in the surrounding area. And like any activity involving the Mystics players, the charitable event quickly became very competitive as the players, divided into two separate assembly lines, raced against each other to fill as many bags as possible. With an initial goal of 805 meals in their sights, it wasn’t before long that the Mystics had filled all the bags available to them and ran out of food supplies.
But, even while turning the event into a friendly competition and team-building game, the players never lost touch of what the true objective at hand was.
“Not a lot of people take the opportunities they have to give back, so for us, having these opportunities as WNBA players, to give back to the community in any way possible, is awesome and I’m happy to do it,” center Stefanie Dolson stated.
In what is clearly a magnanimous team full of true professionals, guard Ivory Latta related, “Things like this are bigger than basketball,” adding, “You may not think it, but just taking 15, 20 minutes of your time just giving back to the city, it means more to that person than you will ever know.”
With only days remaining for the team before they head to Connecticut for opening night of the WNBA regular season, it could have been easy to overlook an event like this and not give it the proper attention it deserved, yet this was in no way the case for this group of women. What could have been viewed as menial activity, the Mystics turned into a meaningful, team-building experience.
Latta, self-proclaimed leader of the assembly line “Team Latta,” pointed out the team bonding aspect of a situation such as this one, saying, “[Community service] is a great thing, but it’s also team building. The chemistry that we have, it shows so that’s great.”
And the impact an event such as this one, hosted by a team such as the Mystics, can have on those in need did not go unnoticed to Cup of Joe Program Coordinator Lydia Monroe.
“This [event] is such a big thing because I can tell the shelters that this was made by the Washington Mystics, this was made with love, and to let them know that people do care. You have basketball teams, you have organizations like Monumental Sports that are aware of their needs and want to give back so it’s a tremendous boost.”
Monroe further explained that more than anything, the recipients of these meals, in addition to wanting and needing the food itself, simply want to feel recognized and appreciated. And this gesture from the Mystics helped do just that by conveying to those in need that there are people out there who truly care about their lives and well-being.
When asked what message the Mystics want to give to those in the D.C. community struggling with poverty, homelessness, and hunger, there were two overwhelming responses; love and hope. Dolson mentioned that Kia Vaughn was writing cards to put in the bags that simply said “Smile.” A truly heart-warming deed like this by Mystics players will undoubtedly put a smile on the faces of struggling recipients. Monroe summed it up best, “They’re going to love this.”