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Saturday morning, in between raindrops at the ballpark, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation unveiled its new Neighborhood Initiative, which aims to support small non-profits near Nationals Park with grants, donations, and resources from both the foundation and the team.
The first two organizations selected for the initiative are the Hopkins Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, located in the Hopkins public housing project at 12th and K, SE, and Near Southeast's own Earth Conservation Corps, which since 1989 has worked with hundreds of unemployed 17- to 25-year-olds to give them career skills and training while working to restore the Anacostia River. Anyone who's looked out at the river from the ballpark's grand staircase or its Potomac Avenue viewing platform has seen the red brick pumphouse that is one of the ECC's two locations (the other is just down the river at Buzzards Point), and which will anchor the soon-to-come Diamond Teague Park, named for an ECC volunteer who was murdered in 2003.
The Dream Foundation will be giving the ECC $40,000 a year for the next three years; the Hopkins club is receiving a $50,000 gift to hire a "teen director." Foundation chair Marla Lerner Tanenbaum said that the Nationals are committed to "being good neighbors," and that "the health of the Anacostia River is a concern of all District residents."
Nats players Joel Hanrahan and Elijah Dukes helped unveil the new "Wall of Dreams," where fans can contribute to the Foundation's works by purchasing a baseball that displays their name and a short inscription, with various "packages" ranging from $250 to $5,000. (The display is just across from the kid's Strike Zone in the Center Field Plaza.) I took some photos at the event; you can also read the press release, along with a piece on MLB.com.
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