My life changed on Aug. 31, 2009.
That’s when I stepped through the doors of 1224 M Street for my first day of work at DC SCORES. Today, nearly nine years later, is my last day in the office – our new office – as a full-time employee of the organization.
If you know me, you have probably heard me talk about DC SCORES. I have maybe emailed you around our giving days, telling a new story of inspiration each time (A’dora’s, Uniyah’s, Edgar’s, Edwin’s, Ingrid’s, Claudia’s, the list goes on), or you’ve seen a Facebook post of mine. Maybe I’ve inspired you to give with my silly push-ups or half marathons for the kids. Or perhaps we’ve just discussed SCORES at a happy hour, or over a cup of coffee. I’m sorry, but not sorry for talking frequently about my job.
I have told those stories of impact over and over. My favorite story, the one I shared once more this week with staff and friends, was about the Wheatley Whales and my one day of coaching a DC SCORES team – an experience that taught me, some 13 months into my time here, how simple the meaning of our work can be: showing up, being there for the kids, providing a team and an opportunity for these kids, offering a safe space and trusted mentors for the kids. I felt this again yesterday, some eight years later, at summer camp as I kicked around a ball with a group of participants. By offering this free, fun space, we’re making a difference. Daily.
But DC SCORES doesn’t just change kids’ lives. It has a profound impact on adults’ lives, too.
I came to Washington, DC, with no nonprofit experience. I came to Washington, DC, knowing nothing about the city beyond “White House” and “U.S. Capitol.” I came to Washington, DC, a city where I had no friends and no idea what to get involved in. In summation, I had no clue what I was getting into. I knew my AmeriCorps VISTA program lasted one year and I knew I’d have to live frugally. I also knew DC SCORES wanted me to start a blog.
Then I stepped through those doors, officially beginning my first 9-5 type job as an adult (I had previously freelanced as a sports writer out of college). Since that day, I’ve been spoiled. I think it’s safe to say that no other 9-5 will ever compare. If you have the opportunity to apply for a job at DC SCORES, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Empowerment. I went from an AmeriCorps VISTA to a Communications Coordinator. From that to a manager. From that to a director. But it’s not about the titles – I had real responsibility in each role. I was given the tools and encouragement to succeed from Day 1. In my first weeks on the job, I was trusted to create and build a blog — what has now become this blog some 1,000 posts later. Two years of AmeriCorps in the books, a communications position was created for me. I was told to run with it. If I had questions, I could walk down the hall and chat with any staff member. I enjoyed the perfect balance of some guidance and a lot of autonomy.
And I learned every day.
Working at DC SCORES is about so much more than running after-school programs for kids and writing grants and creating marketing assets and posting on social media. It is about caring for people, all people. It is about learning how to interact with people, how to treat people right. I learned this early on, as I watched how fellow staff members engaged with not only each other, but any coach at a game day, any parent at an event, you name the occasion.
Some of my favorite game days have been at Thomas Elementary School by Minnesota Avenue. I’ve witnessed nine EPIC Eastside Poetry Slams at Kelly Miller and H.D. Woodson in Ward 7 (if you haven’t been to one, bookmark Nov. 14-15). I once biked to Leckie Elementary – our southernmost school – and wrote a blog about how the new principal made starting a DC SCORES program one of her first initiatives when she moved there from another school.
DC SCORES has opened my eyes to the District as a whole, not just NW or any gentrifying neighborhood. Now anytime I bike by Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights, I gaze out at the soccer field and usually see kids in SCORES shirts or alumni now in high school or beyond. I oftentimes run into Popsie, one of the greatest people I have ever met and an absolute DC SCORES All-Star. I could write this entire blog just on Popsie and the impact he’s made. If I wear a SCORES shirt in any neighborhood, I’ll usually get at least one look of recognition from a kid or a parent who’s been involved.
I am a part of a community. That community is a family.
Building Teams, Changing Lives
That’s been the DC SCORES tagline for the majority of my time here, and it’s accurate. While people come and go at every job, every staff change here – mine included – has been a shock. “You’re leaving DC SCORES???” That’s the truest of testaments to how strong, cohesive and fun our team is. This is a crazy place to leave.
The work is hard. The problems we’re tackling – and the issues our poet-athletes face – are not overnight solutions. There have been setbacks. But through it all, this team has embodied DC SCORES’ mission, which, I think, is what a well-run nonprofit – a place that’s been recognized as the best in Washington, DC with the best Executive Director – is all about. If we’re instilling teamwork, leadership and commitment in 8-15 year-olds, we better do the same internally.
We have. Since my first day. And when I look back on this part of my life, I can’t think of a better work environment with better people – all dedicated to the mission, but not taking themselves overly seriously.
Thank you, DC SCORES, for nine inspiring years of full-time employment and a lifetime in the family. And thank you to anyone who’s read this blog or been a part of the DC SCORES team during this time — I appreciate you.
PS: Get involved. Volunteer. Donate. Visit www.DCSCORES.org or hit me up. I’ve got stories…
PPS: I leave you with one of my all-time favorite DC SCORES poems (there are many), a piece of creative writing from the first Poetry Slam! I witnessed that I have never forgotten and is on the wall above my desk.
Let’s All Save the World Together
Do you like nature?
Do you like playing outside?
Do you like hiking or watching the beach tides?
So Let’s Save the World Together!
It’s getting warmer nowadays
So don’t let the hot weather carry you away.
Reuse, Recycle, Reduce and don’t litter.
So tell this to relatives, friends and baby sitters!
So let’s save the world Together!
Go green, plant gardens, plant bushes or even a rose
And bring back that fresh natural smell to your nose.
Save electricity and cut off the lights and bring back those peaceful and cooler nights.
Don’t waste the water we need to drink
So please don’t let those precious drops go down the sink!
So Let’s Save the World Together!
Burrville Elementary School