On Tuesday, October 7, the San Francisco 49ers partnered with the United Way to participate in a community service project in honor of the NFL-wide Hometown Huddle program.
49ers owner John York, 49ers players Kentwan Balmer, Isaac Bruce, Atiyyah Ellison, Bryant Johnson, and Michael Lewis, along with over 20 volunteers from the 49ers and United Way, physically made over the Precita Valley Community Center located in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Bruce discussed how the transformation of the community center, now called the "San Francisco 49ers Clubhouse at Precita," will affect the youth who use it on a daily basis.
"This center will give the kids a better opportunity to make good decisions in what they can do with their time. So we're helping out with their decision-making. It looks great. It's not because of the football stuff, but it's a place to get away if they need to get away."
Marisa Gittens, the Children's Services Coordinator at Precita Valley Community Center, greatly took the 49ers and United Way's efforts to heart. Gittens discussed the impact of the upgrades on her children.
"This day means that my kids know that there are opportunities in life," said Gittens. "I think it's awesome to have the 49ers organization here. I'm a big fan. But also I feel that in these times, when people are worried about how much money they have, it's amazing that people are still willing to give back regardless of how much money they make or what they do in life or how famous they are. Real help has no lines."
The 49ers and United Way volunteers spent the entire morning putting the finishing touches on the backyard play area, and transforming a recreation room where the kids gather after school and during the summers. The tasks includedcarrying and raking bark for the backyard, planting plants throughout the surrounding area, assembling a brand new BBQ, and putting together $4,000 worth of furniture that was donated by Ikea for the inside of the clubhouse.
"The San Francisco 49ers have done a lot of things with community relations and the 49ers Foundation, and the NFL has had a long relationship with United Way," said York. "So today, it's one of those occasions where the 49ers community relations and the United Way have come together for their Hometown Huddle to revitalize this community center and to help with the idea of keeping kids safe, on track and in school."
Players such as Johnson believe that the revised community center will do exactly that.
"I think this is very great for the kids," said Johnson. "We didn't have too many places like this where I grew up so knowing that you have a place to go after school where you can escape from the things that are taking place outside on the streets and be in an environment like this is great for kids and I think it's great for their upbringing."
Once the players and volunteers completed their tasks throughout the center, they had the joy of watching over 20 three to five year-old children actually make use of the new play area. The 49ers helped the children with an arts and crafts project, building small wooden football name plates that were later signed by York and the players.
The 49ers Foundation, one of the National Football League's largest charitable foundations, donated $10,000 to the Hometown Huddle project this year. Throughout 2008, the 49ers Foundation has distributed over $1.5 million in grants and contributions this year to various non-profit agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the second year in a row the 49ers Foundation has donated $1.5 million totaling over $7 million the past six years.
Also making this event possible was the helping hand of Dani MacKenzie-Johnston, owner of MacKenzie-Johnston Interiors, who donated her time and skills to decorating the inside of the clubhouse with the donated merchandise from Ikea. In addition, Darren McClung Precious Jewelry, Flores Painting and Drywall, Inc., Heren Garden Design, Mackenzie Johnston Interiors, Perlsan Construction and Custom Design, Rick Lopez Landscapes, Scope One Construction, Sharp, and S&M Movers all played a part in making this day possible by partnering with the 49ers and donating items or services to give back to the community center.