Posted by Barbara Lewis, May 17, 2011
I first read about Garrett and Kyle Weiss in the local newspaper about four years ago and never tire of catching up on their latest activities with FUNDaFIELD. (http://www.fundafield.org) They are wonderful examples, not only of taking an inspired idea and running with it, but also of lighting a fire in one’s friends and spreading the good.
The Weiss brothers, from Danville, CA, visited the World Cup soccer matches in Germany in 2006 when they were 13 and 15 years old. They were struck by the spirit and wild enthusiasm for soccer of the tiny contingent from Angola despite the poverty, disease, and numerous other hardships that comprised daily life in that country. Very aware of their own privileged existence in Danville where they had “the best of everything”, Garrett and Kyle decided to do something to help African youth – with soccer at its center. Here’s the story in Kyle’s words.
According to its May website update, FUNDaFIELD has raised well over $141,000 toward its second fundraising goal of $200,000 and, to date, has built soccer fields at eight schools in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.
For me, what sets this organization apart is that it’s run by kids, enlisting and utilizing the involvement of youth as young as 5 and as old as 25. Kids urge kids to get involved and stay involved. So far, fundraising has been accomplished by a team of more than 30 middle school, high school and college (Garrett is now a sophomore at USC) students who are fundraising Directors and Associates. Each Director manages two fundraising events per year and volunteers a minimum of 50 hours’ service to FUNDaFIELD activities. Associates are volunteers (5-14 year olds and 15-25 year olds) working to rise to the Director level.
FUNDaFIELD maintains an elaborate recognition program, the President’s Volunteer Service Awards, that obviously keeps kids committed and attracts new interest. Each year, bronze, silver and gold awards, based on age and annual service hours, are bestowed on individual team members. Photos of all directors and associates, along with the awards they have received are posted on the website.
As parents and grandparents, we learn (sometimes ruefully) that kids are often quicker to learn from their peers than they are from us. Kudos to FUNDaFIELD for tapping into that tendency in such a positive way and giving a lot of African kids something healthy and fun to smile about – socccer!