Washington, DC: November 18, 2010—The University of the District of Columbia Firebirds Women's Basketball Team has eagerly involved itself with helping the Washington community in the past and this year they have done the same. This year they volunteered their services to the Special Olympics of the District of Columbia and the Food & Friends programs.
The Special Olympics was started in 1969, and is now in its 41st year of service. It is the sole provider of sports and fitness training, health screenings and competition for citizens with developmental disabilities in the District of Columbia. SODC athletes come from public schools, group homes, agencies and associations serving citizens with developmental disabilities economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States.
In late October, the Women's Basketball Team established a new relationship with the Special Olympics of the District of Columbia, volunteering to conduct activities during the Special Olympics Annual Athletic Games. Among the activities conducted by the Firebirds were, refereeing games during the basketball tournament, working the scorer's table, helping serve lunch and participating in the opening and closing ceremonies.
Members of the team felt a sense of accomplishment in volunteering their service to those with special needs.
Jamilia Bonner, a junior guard on the team, stated, "This was my first time helping with the Special Olympics and it isn't every day that you get to work with a special needs child...being able to help them play a sport was overwhelming for me. As I refereed them, I encouraged healthy, wholesome interaction. They were smart kids and I was so moved from the experience that it made me want to earn a medal also."
The Team continued to develop its long relationship with the Food & Friends program, volunteering with them last week to assist in preparing food for those in need. Food & Friends is the only organization in the Washington DC area providing specialized, nutritious meals, groceries, nutrition counseling and friendship to people living with HIV/AIDS, Cancer and other Life Challenging Illnesses.
The Firebirds packed bags with groceries and assisted with a variety of other activities at the Food & Friends downtown center. Stacy Griffith, a junior forward on the Firebirds Team expressed her feelings about her experiences with the two programs, saying, "I thought it would be fun to volunteer with them, it's a fun way to give back. Since this is our first year with the Special Olympics, I wanted to go out and have fun with the kids and make sure they had a good time. I like the fact that our coaches place emphasis on doing community service. To see those kids playing the games that we play every day was fun. They are serious about the sport they play while facing the challenges that are in front of them, they have motivated me."