By MARK F. GRAY, AFRO Staff Writer
The most successful point guards in the NBA are driven to deliver. They make the team around them better setting them up for success even when the team is not at its best and they aren’t playing at full strength.
Despite an ailing quadricep that made it difficult to stand for long stretches, Washington Wizards guard John Wall brought smiles to a soggy Southeast D.C. community who came to see their hometown superstar, whose foundation is working with a local organization trying to make this holiday season easier for them.
John Wall and the John Wall Family Foundation (JWFF) partnered with Bright Beginnings and Giant Foods, to distribute turkeys to homeless families who reside in underserved communities in Washington, D.C. The five time NBA All-Star and representatives from the Wizards organization visited the Congress Heights community for an afternoon of festivities while the families who arrived left the event with the main dish for the Thanksgiving meal.
“It’s important for me to give something back to the people who support me,” Wall told the AFRO. “I know what it’s like to have it tough when you’re growing up. It makes me feel good to be out here and meet people. You never know how you can impact the lives of people in the community.”
Bright Beginnings is a non-profit organization that serves children under the age of six and their families who are experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C. The mission is to provide children with a safe, nurturing educational environment that prepares them to enter kindergarten ready to learn. They also support parents in stabilizing their home lives and becoming self-sufficient. Bright Beginnings is recognized for its free, developmentally-appropriate early childhood education programming.
When evaluating potential community partnerships, the JWFF found their missions were similar. Wall established his foundation to strives to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged families and to impact the lives of at-risk youth through mentorship, education and physical activities. With the two mission statements representing similar philosophies, the collaboration has paid big dividends.
“We’ve been in collaboration with [JWFF] in a really robust way about four years. We got a phone call one day and his team wanted to come out to see what we do. They came out, they did a lot of due diligence, they found out who we were, what we do, what we’re about. We got another phone call and John Wall showed up with a check- a huge check of support,” Bright Beginnings Executive Director Dr. Marla Dean told the AFRO.
“After my assistant and I did a background check we knew [Bright Beginnings] was the kind of organization that we could partner with,” Wall said. “Their mission falls in line with what I believe in.”
The event was another extension of the Wall Foundation’s commitment to local charities that impact the lives of homeless and destitute families around the D.M.V. This was an extension of the charitable organization’s sponsorships that directly impact children and their families, which is something that Wall is all too familiar with.
“Whenever you build a bond or form a partnership with a team, organization or charity, it becomes like a family,” Wall said. “I stand for loyalty over royalty when I believe in what an organization does in the community. They do that here.”
A steady stream of residents made their pilgrimage through torrential freezing rains and braved wind chill temperatures in the teens to receive 12-pound fresh turkeys that were provided by Giant Foods. Wall greeted the families – though in obvious discomfort from an ailing thigh injury – for almost two hours standing on his feet. He posed for selfies with fans of all ages and some weren’t overly impressed by the NBA All Star I their neighborhood.
Wall, who is now being represented by the same firm as LeBron James, takes his motivation from the three time NBA champion regarding community outreach.
“That’s where I’m trying to be,” Wall said. “Watching what he does in the community makes me want to do more. I’m hoping that one day I can impact he does”.