This week, the Nationals continued their annual Thanksgiving tradition of giving by once again volunteering at Food & Friends, a community organization that provides home-delivered, specialized meals and life-sustaining nutrition to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses.
Nationals infielder Stephen Lombardozzi and team mascot Screech joined 30 staff members from the team’s front office on Monday, November 21, to prepare Thanksgiving boxes for some of the 800 Food & Friends clients who will receive the meals during the upcoming holiday.
“This visit was a lot of fun,” said Lombardozzi, a 2007 graduate of Atholton High School in Columbia, Md., and winner of the 2011 Nationals Minor League Player of the Year award. “It felt great helping to make sure hundreds of families will have a great Thanksgiving.”
This marks the fourth year that the Nationals have visited Food & Friends, with Lombardozzi and the volunteers taking on various tasks around the kitchen like preparing turkeys and packing sweet potatoes and corn. Each meal will serve four people and includes a 10-12lb turkey, sides and pie for dessert. Nationals staff also helped pack pre-made meals for Food & Friends beneficiaries.
Since 1988, Food & Friends has provided food and companionship to clients and their loved ones and caregivers throughout the year. The organization relies heavily on volunteers to serve more than 1 million meals a year to clients throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. To get involved, go to www.foodandfriends.org for more information.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos and EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the media earlier today in the team’s clubhouse at Nationals Park. Wilson delivered a brief statement, during which he thanked Nationals fans for their prayers and support over the past week, while Rizzo answered questions from the media.
Ramos’ remarks were as follows:
“I want to say ‘Thanks’ to Nats fans for their prayers and support. I am happy to be here and I am happy to be with my family. See you in Spring Training.”
Ramos and Rizzo embraced following the press conference, while teammates Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman were also on hand to show their support. All appear eager to put the events of the past week behind them and turn their attention back to baseball and the 2012 season ahead.
As part of its annual Community Rebuilding Project, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation partnered with Rebuilding Together DC last week to revitalize Shirley’s Place, a daytime hospitality center for homeless families in Southeast D.C.
From electrical repairs to carpentry projects, volunteers from the Nationals facilities staff were hard at work enhancing the safe, healthy environment that the facility provides. Improvements included new interior and exterior handrails to assist the organization’s disabled clients, expanded storage space thanks to shelving units built on-site by Nationals Park carpenters and installation of a brand new washer and dryer that was generously donated by Multi Housing Depot by ARI. In addition, walls and moldings throughout the two-story townhouse received a fresh coat of paint, courtesy of front office volunteers. Even Screech, the Nationals official mascot, rolled up his sleeves to help.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have these improvements done,” said Jacob Wilkins, Communications and Development Associate for Capitol Hill Group Ministry, which has operated the facility since 2007. “It means so much to us, especially with hypothermia season coming up, that we are able to increase our capacity and just make the facility so much safer in general.”
Shirley’s Place is an important part of the D.C. community, offering the city’s homeless a place to warm up or cool down, bathe, do laundry and enjoy a meal. Staff members are also available to assist clients with medical and social service needs. The organization was selected as the fourth Community Rebuilding Project based on a number of factors, such as its close proximity to Nationals Park and commitment to serving children and families.
“This organization has been doing great work in the area for quite a while,” Dream Foundation Manager Vera Maher said. “We wanted to provide improvements that will help make life a little easier for their clients.”
While the organization benefitted from some necessary repairs to the facility, it was the Nationals volunteers that gained the most from the experience.
“It feels really good to give back,” said Joe Baggott Sr., a painter with the Nationals Park facilities management staff. “This is the third year I’ve done it and it’s great to see people get the place fixed up and have experienced technicians put everything in place.”