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Thank you for your participation. Voting is now closed. Winner will be announced at the 2018 MLS All-Star Game Presented by Target, on August 1st at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

COMMUNITY MVP CONTEST

COMMUNITY
MVP
CONTEST

MLS fans can nominate themselves or another individual who sets an example as a role model in the community and uses soccer as a tool to help make a positive impact in one of the following areas:

  • Social issues focusing on inclusion, diversity and equality
  • Health issues affecting men, women or children
  • Community service for a local, national and/or international charity or community organization

One (1) Community MVP is selected to represent each of the 23 MLS clubs. Winners are recognized, both nationally and locally. All 23 finalists are invited to the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target in Atlanta, Georgia where the Grand Prize winner will be announced.

The Grand Prize winner, based on online and Twitter voting results, will receive a $25,000 donation to their selected charity.

Community Map

23 FINALISTS BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES

Who will win $25,000 for charity?
Click on a finalist to learn more and place your vote
June Leahy, Austen Everett Foundation June Leahy, Austen Everett Foundation Seattle Sounders FC
Community MVP

June dedicates her life’s work to the memory of her daughter, Austen Everett who passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012. June carries on the legacy of the former collegiate goalkeeper and founder of the Austen Everett Foundation by inspiring youth battling cancer through sport. June Leahy serves as Executive Director of the Austen Everett Foundation.

As Austen battled cancer, she recognized the power, strength and support that her athletic team and community provided her. June carries out Austen’s vision that every child fighting cancer should have an athlete or sports team cheering them on. To date, June and AEF have worked to inspire over 700 kids in Seattle and throughout the country in their fight against cancer by partnering with professional and collegiate teams to create customized once-in-a-lifetime experiences for these youth.

September 2018 will mark the 4th season of Sounders FC and AEF’s partnership not only during Kick Childhood Cancer month but throughout the season. During 2018, AEF identifies a youth battling cancer to be recognized at every Sounders FC home match as an “Honorary Team Captain”. During the month of September, AEF invites over 50 kids fighting cancer and their families to attend a training visit and team meet and greet, as well as presents a youth with the opportunity to become a Sounders FC player for a day.

Seattle Sounders FC
Adrian Conoboy, We Can Kick It Adrian Conoboy, We Can Kick It New York City FC
Community MVP

In 2016, Adrian Conoboy was diagnosed with brain cancer. During his time in the hospital, he was touched by the kids around him also battling this journey and decided to use this unfortunate turn of events to do good in his community.

Adrian founded We Can Kick It, a nonprofit that provides free soccer programs to kids and young adults, ages 6-18, affected by cancer. Their soccer community is based in the New York metropolitan area and their mission is to expand throughout the United States, helping those affected by cancer everywhere.

New York City FC
Doco Wesseh, One Goal Foundation Doco Wesseh, One Goal Foundation Chicago Fire
Community MVP

One Goal Foundation was started by a refugee of war, Doco Wesseh. Doco was only 10 years old when he had to flee for his life. He spent nearly a decade living in jungles or refugee camps where he was surrounded by hardships, disease and death. He ended up being separated from his family for years and was brought to the U.S. by a Christian missionary family. Doco received a full soccer scholarship to college and values the education he received.

Doco started One Goal to give back to the people in Liberia and provide inspiration to the children so they can dream again. He said, “Liberia is where I am from; living through the war and missing out on so many opportunities as a child in Liberia, I have decided to step up and give back in a unique fashion. Living in the USA and seeing kids being kids, and having all the opportunities provided to them to live out their dreams, I felt the children of Liberia deserve the opportunity to play like other children around the world.”

Chicago Fire
Spencer Rockman, Project HEAL Spencer Rockman, Project HEAL New York Red Bulls
Community MVP

At the forefront of the U.S. soccer revolution in the early ’70s, Spencer Rockman’s outreach efforts and innovative approach electrified and entertained tens of thousands through generations for nearly five decades.

With his focus on experiential soccer and spirituality, Spencer has conducted over 26,000 customized soccer events. His ‘graduating’ players and coaches span the spectrum of the soccer community—U.S. National Team, professional, Olympic, semi-professional, college, high school, youth and early childhood—and they have gone on to make their own vital contributions.

Spencer is the 1974 co-founder of the preeminent Edison United Soccer Association / Metuchen S.C. for youth, men, and women, and served 13 years as President. He was inducted in the NJ Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 2013 and the NJ Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 2017. He’s also the co-founder of Garden State Soccer League.

As evidence of Spencer’s unique and enduring community impact, he was the subject of a national PBS ‘Religion & Ethics’ documentary and Edison honored him in 2008 by naming the town’s soccer complex after him.

The scourge of eating disorders hits close to home for Spencer, and is the deadliest of all mental illnesses. Its prevalence reaches all segments and genders including athletes. Although afflicting millions, the disease remains underground and underserved. Spencer supports Project HEAL, a unique grassroots organization, providing direct healing and early intervention, so vital to sufferers.

Spencer, along with his wife, have cared for 30 foster children over 20 years, and he can be found volunteering his soccer talents at fundraisers such as Children’s Tumor Foundation, ‘Kicks for Kids with Cancer and Blood Disorders,’ Hope Food Pantry, in addition to international programs with new Ethiopian immigrants.

New York Red Bulls
Eric Fusinato, St-Lazare Hudson Soccer Club Eric Fusinato, St-Lazare Hudson Soccer Club Montreal Impact
Community MVP

Eric has been an ethics and religious culture professor at Honoré-Mercier high school in Ville-Émard Pointe Saint-Charles for the past 18 years. He’s recognized throughout the school for being so involved, helping students with learning disabilities, initiating a breakfast program and organizing several school trips to Italy.

In his community of Saint-Lazare, Quebec, Eric coaches five youth teams of the St-Lazare Hudson Soccer Club. Not only is he focused on teaching these young players soccer skills, but an emphasis is also put on making sure his players are contributing in their community by volunteering for the Christmas food drive in St-Lazare, participating in a soccer program for children with special needs, which is in association with Special Olympics Quebec, and helping fill up sand bags during the Spring floods that ravaged the area in 2017. Eric also volunteers on the Governing Board at two schools in the Saint-Lazare community.

Eric strives for his students and players to be aware of what’s going on around them by sensitizing them to the realities of 2018. It’s by forming tomorrow’s leaders, on the field and in the classroom, that Eric has a positive impact on his community. Through all his actions, Eric is a great example for his two sons and all the players he coaches.


Eric Fusinato est un professeur d’éthique et culture religieuse à l’école secondaire Honoré-Mercier dans le quartier Ville-Émard-Pointe Saint-Charles ces 18 dernières années. Il est très connu dans son école puisqu’il est très impliqué. Aidant des élèves avec des troubles d’apprentissage, il a mis en œuvre un programme de déjeuner et il organise plusieurs voyages en Italie.

Dans sa communauté de Saint-Lazare, Eric est entraîneur de cinq équipes de jeunes du club de soccer St-Lazare Hudson. Il n’est pas seulement concentré à ce que ses jeunes jouent au soccer, mais il met aussi l’emphase sur la contribution de ses joueurs dans leur communauté en faisant du bénévolat pour la collecte de nourriture de Noël, en participant à un programme de soccer pour enfants avec des besoins spéciaux en collaboration avec Olympiques Spéciaux Québec et en aidant à remplir les sacs de sable pendant les inondations printanières qui ont ravagé la région en 2017. Eric est également bénévole sur le conseil d’administration de deux écoles à Saint-Lazare.

Eric désire que ses élèves et ses joueurs sachent ce qui se passe autour d’eux en les sensibilisant aux réalités actuelles. C’est en formant les leaders de demain, tant dans la salle de classe que sur le terrain qu’il a un impact de premier plan dans sa communauté. À travers toutes ses actions, Eric est un bon exemple pour ses deux fils et tous les jeunes autour de lui.

Montreal Impact
Grace Bowman, Kicking Kids’ Cancer Grace Bowman, Kicking Kids’ Cancer Orlando City SC
Community MVP

Grace is a major force in the Orlando youth soccer community. Using the resources she has at XL Soccer World, Grace makes an impact on the lives of children in her community. Grace started XL.lent Soccer to provide autistic children with an opportunity to develop basic soccer skills in a safe, fun, pressure free environment. Over the last three years the program has grown from eight kids to over a few dozen with even more on the wait list. A weekly 1-hour session is instructed by professional coaches in conjunction with the University of Central Florida’s PALS Program and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Through Grace, XL Soccer World also supports Kicking Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit organization with the mission to help fund innovative clinical research that can one day find a cancer cure for children. Since XL’s first event in 2013, over $160,000 has been fundraised and in 2017 the XL Soccer World Research Grant was funded. This $50,000 grant supports doctors at the Children’s of Alabama Hospital who are conducting innovative research into children’s brain cancer.

Grace continues to use XL Soccer World as a platform to directly impact and improve her community. Her passion to help others continuously inspires those around her.

Orlando City SC
Adan Gonzalez, Puede Network Adan Gonzalez, Puede Network FC Dallas
Community MVP

Adan Gonzalez, Founder and Executive Director of the Puede Network, grew up in South Oak Cliff, one of the toughest and poorest neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas.

Puede Network is a youth education and leadership development program, where Adan organizes initiatives with C-Suite executives to provide comprehensive college access services, volunteer opportunities, and mentorship to underprivileged students in inner city public schools.

Adan has engaged with over 200,000 students and parents all around the world through presentations, blog and radio programs, while advocating the importance of higher education, parental support, and community involvement.

The non-profit doesn’t only focus on recent college bound students. It also cares deeply about the younger kids in the community, actively engaging them in education and service, as well as sports and leadership. As a former collegiate boxer, Gonzalez loves incorporating time for boxing and soccer with the kids. He teaches them to be confident and to believe in themselves, having them cheer “si se puede” during water breaks and after practice.

FC Dallas
Ann Murphy, Youth R.I.S.E. Ann Murphy, Youth R.I.S.E. Sporting Kansas City
Community MVP

Ann Murphy is using her passion for soccer to transform the lives of at-risk youth in her community. After playing collegiate soccer at St. Louis University, Ann became a police officer for the Kansas City Police Department, which provided her the opportunity to meet and get to know the youth that were living in the areas she patrolled. Ann founded Youth R.I.S.E (Resilience, Influence, Support and Education) after she noticed the kids she was getting to know had little faith in their possibilities and true potential. Consisting of 100 percent volunteers from various areas within law enforcement, educational institutions, and private sector businesses, Youth R.I.S.E. mentors commit their  time and resources to reach these at-risk youth within the Kansas City community, through extracurricular activities, primarily soccer, and support them during times of need.

Youth R.I.S.E. continues to reach many youth and provide opportunities to develop skills and learn about teamwork, leadership, resilience, responsibility, the importance of education, interpersonal skills, and athletics. Over the years, Youth R.I.S.E. has grown to support many youth from Kansas City communities. Youth R.I.S.E. has emerged into one of the few youth mentorship programs that truly focuses on this population within Kansas City, leading it to triple in size within one year

Sporting Kansas City
Brian Gutierrez, West Covina Youth Soccer Brian Gutierrez, West Covina Youth Soccer Los Angeles FC
Community MVP

Brian Gutierrez has dedicated his life to improving his community and helping advance the cause of Autism Awareness. He’s worked with local school districts and national nonprofits to create opportunities for those with disabilities.

Diagnosed with Autism/Aspergers at age 14, he believes that when we give people with disabilities the resources they need, they can become successful. At 22, Brian was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as a State Councilmember for the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities. He made an impact working with schools to create soccer programs that work closely with those with developmental disabilities.

Through his work as the Executive Vice President of Del Records, Brian has helped sponsor several youth soccer leagues, including West Covina Youth Soccer, continues to advocate for Autism Speaks, and supports students at his alma mater of Nogales High School in West Covina, CA.

Los Angeles FC
Jon Lutz, Canada SCORES Vancouver Jon Lutz, Canada SCORES Vancouver Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Community MVP

Jon is the ultimate catalyst for positive change in his community. Since 2013, his leadership and passion for giving back resulted in the successful founding of Canada SCORES Vancouver. Canada SCORES’ mission is to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world. After-school programs involving soccer, poetry and community service projects are offered to students, 85% of which live below the poverty line. The SCORES Network serves over 11,000 students, at 245 public and charter schools in 12 major cities in the US and Canada. Jon’s involvement with SCORES began in Los Angeles, serving as a volunteer on the Board of Directors in 2004. After moving to Vancouver to begin his career as the CFO of EA SPORTS, he began the process to establish the first Canadian SCORES location in his Burnaby community.

Canada SCORES Vancouver has grown to serve 10 schools across two school districts, supporting more than 200 kids between the ages of 9 – 13 years old. Jon remains a dedicated volunteer, who leads by example and inspires everyone around him to see the potential of our youth. His steadfast commitment to supporting the expansion of Canada SCORES is changing the lives of kids throughout Canada.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Jackie Skinner, Goals for Girls Jackie Skinner, Goals for Girls Real Salt Lake
Community MVP

Jackie is the Operations Director at a non-profit she co-founded called Goals for Girls (G4g), whose mission is to use soccer to teach leadership to young women and in turn inspire them to create community change. She connects girls from different countries and backgrounds to address social and health issues through cultural exchange, service, and soccer. She ran the leadership summit in Utah, using a cross-cultural model that brought girls from different backgrounds and countries together for an inspiring leadership conference that challenged participants to be agents of change in their own lives, their teams and in their communities.

Jackie has also taken U.S.-based G4g alumni on 11 international youth summits primarily in India and South Africa. During these trips, young athletes conduct soccer clinics, tournaments, while simultaneously teaching life skills through classroom, and cultural exchange activities. Her summits have developed global youth leaders from the U.S. and abroad.

Real Salt Lake
Bill Salvatore, Philadelphia International Unity Cup Bill Salvatore, Philadelphia International Unity Cup Philadelphia Union
Community MVP

Since 2016, Philadelphia has hosted a World Cup-style tournament, the Philadelphia International Unity Cup (PIUC), which unites our city’s neighborhoods and celebrates its diverse immigrant communities through soccer. The PIUC is made possible by the work of Bill Salvatore, a former teacher and recreation leader. Bill, also known as the Mayor of the Unity Cup, dedicates himself to ensuring the best possible experience for the 50+ teams, 800+ athletes, spectators and communities who participate. In addition to over 100 matches, the PIUC includes a Block Party and Parade of Nations giving teams and the communities they represent a platform to celebrate their cultures.

Bill also created the Unity Youth League to bring free soccer programs to underserved immigrant neighborhoods. Bill has done much more than create a successful soccer tournament, he has amplified the voice of thousands of individuals. Bill is already an MVP in Philly and deserves to be recognized nationally for his work.

Philadelphia Union
Omar Ramirez, Soccer Without Borders Omar Ramirez, Soccer Without Borders San Jose Earthquakes
Community MVP

Originally from Leon, Mexico, Omar moved to the United States in 2005, settling in Oakland with his family. After meeting Ye-Htet Soe, a Soccer Without Borders coach, Omar began volunteering and came on as a head coach in 2011. Soccer Without Borders (SWB) offers soccer and educational programming for refugee and immigrant youth. During his time as a coach, he has worked with every age group in SWB and currently works as the head coach of Oakland United—a team comprised of players from Oakland High School and Fremont High School—as well as assisting with the teams at Castlemont High School and Tennyson High School in Hayward.

In 2014 and 2015, Omar attended the Global Action Initiatives Youth Leadership Program with the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace in Bradenton, Florida. Alongside other young leaders from over 20 different countries around the world, Omar furthered his understanding of the power of sport in youth development. Omar dedicates immeasurable time and energy to make SWB a safe space and a home for his players. He supports them in every aspect of their lives, frequently accompanying them to hospital visits and court appointments. For youth who come to SWB feeling lost, excluded, and alone, Omar has created teams that feel like family.

San Jose Earthquakes
Sandra Castillo, TOPSoccer Sandra Castillo, TOPSoccer LA Galaxy
Community MVP

Sandy Castillo started the first TOPSoccer program for disabled youth in Southern California over 25 years ago, in honor of her daughter Julie.

As the chairperson of Cal South’s TOPSoccer program, Sandy is no stranger herself to a parent’s loss of dreams. A tragic accident took the life of her beloved daughter who had been an equally involved partner in the TOPSoccer program. Motivated by this loss, Castillo turned her focus fully onto a program that provides an excellent outlet for children with disabilities to achieve their own successes. Castillo’s boundless energy and sense of urgency have helped make Cal South’s TOPSoccer program one of the most successful in the country.

TOPSoccer stands for The Outreach Program for Soccer; a program adopted by US Youth Soccer in 1991, which provides children with special needs with the opportunity to participate in the sport of soccer. The emphasis is on letting the children develop in a setting suited to their needs and abilities, and modifications to the rules allow children with differing needs their chance for success. Cal South instituted its own TOPSoccer program in 1992, with its first league established by the Junior United Soccer Association (JUSA).

LA Galaxy
Oswaldo Gallegos, SpringSpirit Oswaldo Gallegos, SpringSpirit Houston Dynamo
Community MVP

Oswaldo is Director of Soccer for SpringSpirit, located in Northwest Houston. The soccer program he founded started with a dream to provide access to competitive soccer to low-income, high-risk kids from the same area he grew up in. With humble beginnings of 40 kids, his program has soared to upwards of 400.

Oswaldo has hired five full-time coaches, most of whom were players during the early days of SpringSpirit. He meets daily with his staff to develop programming that promotes healthy and safe play.

Oswaldo also recruits volunteers, including the parents of players, to create a stronger family bond through soccer. Oswaldo will tell you his life mission is to teach kids what positive traits they can develop to better their lives. He not only coaches on the field, but coaches youth through the hardships that come in an at-risk area.

Houston Dynamo
Merv Brereton, Kicks for Kids WUSAY Merv Brereton, Kicks for Kids WUSAY Columbus Crew SC
Community MVP

Merv Brereton has been a staple in the New American community in Columbus for more than 21 years. He is the founder and Head Coach of Kicks for Kids Worldwide United Soccer Association for Youth, Inc. (WUSAY), a free youth soccer mentoring program that has helped hundreds of children throughout Columbus.

Kicks for Kids WUSAY was founded in 1997 as an independent partnership program with Columbus Crew SC professional soccer organization, providing free soccer tickets to local youth organizations. The program values every youth, and ensures that trained coaches are on site at every field to implement effective academic models to youth.

The Kicks for Kids WUSAY program also conducts regular workshops to prevent youth violence, obesity and bullying while promoting community health and wellness, including healthy foods and healthy drinks.

Columbus Crew SC
Amir Lowery, Open Goal Project Amir Lowery, Open Goal Project D.C. United
Community MVP

Amir Lowery has shown consistent passion, commitment, and dedication to his work as Executive Director of Open Goal Project, a Washington D.C. nonprofit dedicated to clearing pathways for talented youth soccer players from low income backgrounds to pursue high level club soccer. Coaching pay-to-play soccer gave Amir a firsthand look at the obstacles and barriers to entry that players from low-income families face.

Passionate about inner-city youth being able to access the beautiful game, Amir co-founded Open Goal Project in 2015, helping youth soccer players navigate the financial and logistical challenges that persist in American club soccer. As the Executive Director for Open Goal Project, Amir plays an active role in programming, business strategy, coaching and mentorship for a growing number of youth in the D.C. area. It is Amir’s dream to change the landscape of US soccer by making it truly accessible to everyone, regardless of race, class, or socioeconomic status.

D.C. United
David Cohen, Doc Wayne David Cohen, Doc Wayne New England Revolution
Community MVP

David Cohen is the Executive Director of Doc Wayne, a nonprofit using sports-based group therapy to help at-risk youth overcome traumatic events and emotional challenges, while learning important life skills.

The organization’s evidence-informed curriculum, Chalk Talk®, is an innovative form of group therapy where participants share openly with their peers and engage in team sports. The programs are run by clinicians who serve as coaches, many of whom develop strong relationships built on trust with youth participants in need of guidance. Through Doc Wayne, youth are introduced to soccer, basketball, flag football, rowing and other sports, where they develop new skills, learn about teamwork, and benefit from physical activity.

David is a former college soccer player that has been deeply involved in sports-based youth development since 2008 and is committed to helping youth in Boston.

New England Revolution
Timothy Jansen, Woodstock Soccer Club Timothy Jansen, Woodstock Soccer Club Toronto FC
Community MVP

For over twenty years, Timothy Jansen has volunteered with the Woodstock Soccer Club and currently serves as the club’s vice president.  In his time there, Tim has contributed in a variety of ways, including referee, league convener, Director of Discipline and Fair Play, and much more. Tim also helped form a league for Special Olympic athletes, and acted as a member of the building committee that brought a multi-use sport facility to the City of Woodstock.

Every week, the Woodstock Soccer Club runs an all-accessibility indoor soccer program for individuals with physical or mental disabilities, along with any other special needs. This free program ensures that everyone, regardless of skill or ability, has the opportunity to play. Tim brought the idea of the program forward to the soccer club, and continues to manage it on a weekly basis. Tim is a member of the community who understands the power of sport and how it can bring people together.

Toronto FC
Scott Jeffries, Immigrant Refugee Community Organization Scott Jeffries, Immigrant Refugee Community Organization Portland Timbers
Community MVP

Scott has been deeply involved in the lives of the immigrant community of Portland for the past several years. He currently volunteers as a homework tutor and youth mentor with the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). IRCO’s mission is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. Founded in 1976 by refugees for refugees, IRCO has over 40 years of history and experience working with Portland’s refugee and immigrant communities.

Scott has been able to leverage his volunteering with the IRCO into an ongoing partnership with the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, which is the nonprofit engine that runs the Timbers Army supporters group. Through Steve’s leadership, the Timbers Army has donated money and supplies for refugees, purchased equipment and covered field fees for refugee kids to play soccer and futsal, and are working towards building a futsal court on IRCO’s property.

Scott continues to be dedicated to the youth he mentors and works to keep the IRCO at the forefront of the Timbers Army’s community engagement.

Portland Timbers
Shane Hudella, United Heroes League Shane Hudella, United Heroes League Minnesota United FC
Community MVP

Shane Hudella is the Founder and President of United Heroes League, a nonprofit organization that ensures children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in sports. They accomplish this by providing free equipment for military kids, camp session slots, special events for families to attend, and financial assistance for registration fees associated with sports.

Prior to running United Heroes League, Hudella was on active duty for the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed for Operation Desert Storm in 1990. He brings over 23 years of military leadership experience to the organization.

Hudella retired on June 30th, 2012 at the rank of 1SG (First Sgt). Some of his military awards/decorations include: Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4), Army Achievement Medal (4), National Defense Service Medal (2), Southwest Asia Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Minnesota United FC
David Weiss, Denver Public Schools Foundation David Weiss, Denver Public Schools Foundation Colorado Rapids
Community MVP

David Weiss is the Athletic Director at Slavens K-8 in the Denver Public School (DPS) Middle School Prep League. He is also the boys’ and girls’ soccer coach, and has been a coach and PE Teacher at Slavens for the past 19 years. He has spent his entire 22-year career in DPS.

David’s focus on community and his continuous advocation on behalf of the students has helped increase participation in the Prep League. His support of 6th grade programs has convinced colleagues to support and help grow these programs. David is one of the main reasons the League thrives.

Recently David has strived to get his younger students involved in sport working with his middle school coaches to add some clinics for elementary students as well. He is consistently advocating for every child in the Prep League and is always finding ways for kids to participate, not only in soccer which his teams excel at, but throughout the 30-school League that his school is a member of.

David is also recognized as a tireless advocate for increasing PE programs district wide. David is a dedicated supporter of public schools and believes they should be the backbone of the community. In David’s time, along with his amazing colleagues at Slavens, the school has grown threefold and been recognized both locally and nationally for its quality.

Colorado Rapids
Jorge Vallejo, FCA Soccer ATL Jorge Vallejo, FCA Soccer ATL Atlanta United FC
Community MVP

Jorge Vallejo has been extremely successful in his work of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) Soccer ATL. FCA Soccer ATL leverages the platform of the world’s sport and the influence of mentor coaches to equip at-risk children, youth and refugees to not only win on the field, but also in the classroom and in life.

Through soccer and the influence of mentor coaches, Jorge and his team develop soccer programs in underserved communities within Metro Atlanta, creating access to sports but also partnering at-risk youth with mentors that help youth develop in all aspects of life. They desire to see youth graduate from high school with a future life plan.

The program started in one community with 24 youth and currently serves over 600 youth in the Metro Atlanta area, in addition to over 100 in Honduras. Their work focuses on partnering with the community to invest in their own people.

Jorge has served over 1,000 hours and has mentored countless boys and girls over the years. He continues to expand and dedicate himself to the community in the ministry of soccer. The impact he is having with the children is invaluable.

Atlanta United FC

#CommunityMVP

See what the communities are saying about this year’s contest!

    COMMUNITY MVP TESTIMONIALS

    Julio Gutierrez

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    We all shared the similar goal in which we wanted to give hope to others in our community by giving our time and energy to improve it.

    Overall, [the Contest] was a wonderful experience and this is a great way to demonstrate how your community work has impacted others’ lives. Having [Major League Soccer] recognize you is an unforgettable experience that I wish all leaders could go through. This Contest is not just to celebrate your accomplishments, but to motivate future leaders and show that their work does not go unrecognized.

    This is a great way to show that no leader deserves to go unnoticed and to inspire others to help their community in any way.

    Bobby Samra

    2013 MLS WORKS Community MVP Grand Prize Winner

    We galvanized so many people for a common cause. It was awesome seeing the soccer community come together to try to win for charity. There are many people who work hard to benefit others. [This Contest] is a great way to recognize their unselfish work.

    Omari McCleary

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    Community Service and Social Work deserve accolade and praise just as much as feats of athleticism.

    I think all sports have the potential to be transformative, but I believe soccer specifically has a capacity for social change and connectedness. A lot of the possibilities that soccer can inspire goes without recognition and celebration, and yet it’s vital to highlight those who are utilizing the sport for social impact. [This Contest] goes beyond acknowledgement, it could possibly inspire someone to get involved.

    Stephen Schirra

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Grand Prize Winner

    The charitable contribution [from the Contest] allowed us to grow our efforts beyond what we ever thought was possible, increasing our impact both domestic and global.

    The Contest…provided us all with an incredible opportunity to network with other leaders in the sport for social change sector, hearing their stories, and drawing inspiration from the work they were doing within their own local communities and beyond.

    Knowing how important it was to recognize those using sports to make a difference in the world, we have since started a permanent scholarship fund (established June 2017) that will award $1,000 to a graduating high school senior, male or female, who is using sports to make a difference in the local community.

    Derek Braun

    2015 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    [This Contest] creates a community out of a sports team. [It’s] important in highlighting and honoring leaders in the community.

    Mark Popsie Lewis

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    It’s always important to show appreciation to the people that aren’t necessarily looking for any recognition.

    Jennifer Karps

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    I think we have an obligation to support our communities. [The Contest] enables individuals to make a greater impact than they could alone.

    Karen Wright

    2015 MLS WORKS Community MVP Grand Prize Winner

    [This Contest] gets the word out about all the “everyday” people behind the scenes that really help make communities strong. We truly were just examples of the masses that also do what we do.

    Robert Castaneda

    2015 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    I think it’s important for the sport of soccer at its highest level in the country to recognize the valuable work that people are doing on the ground every day trying to make a difference in our world through what unites us, soccer. It’s an important reminder that even though we may cheer for different teams, ultimately, we are all on the same team.

    Charlie Bedard

    2016 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    …the monetary reward was valuable to our local soccer organization. Even though our fees to play organized soccer are quite low, there are many families who cannot afford even that. So, we established a scholarship fund to make sure that any child who wanted to play could play.

    Lisa Stilgenbauer

    2017 MLS WORKS Community MVP Finalist

    I live in a small community that embraces other sports before soccer. From the newspaper articles and just word of mouth, [the Contest] introduced our area to the wonderful game of soccer.

    PAST MVPS

    BOBBY SAMRA
    2013 WINNER
    “There are many people who work hard to benefit others. This contest is a great way to recognize their unselfish work.”

    BOBBY SAMRA

    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

    Bobby Samra was chosen as Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Community MVP for his work as an educator and soccer coach. He is a vice principal in Surrey, British Columbia and has coached soccer for over 25 years. He first started coaching right out of high school and fell in love with teaching and working with kids. Since then, he has coached soccer at every school he has been at and has even had former students return to help him.

    Most recently, Bobby developed a soccer program with Central City Soccer Club and the Surrey School District for kids with mental health issues.

    Bobby donated the money he won from the Community MVP contest to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a cause that is personally very important to him and his family.

    BILL YOACHIM
    2014 WINNER

    BILL YOACHIM

    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

    Bill Yoachim of Nanaimo, British Colombia was chosen as Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Community MVP for co-founding “Hope and Health,” a soccer-based organization that encourages and inspires kids to overcome adversity, in partnership with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

    Bill works with indigenous Canadian children known as First Nations. He saw how many in the community struggled, and he co-created “Hope and Health” to provide support and inspiration for these kids to live healthier, more active lives.

    KAREN WRIGHT
    2015 WINNER
    “It is wonderful that the Community MVP contest gets the word out about the “everyday” people behind the scenes that really help make communities strong. We truly were just examples of the masses that also do what we do.”

    KAREN WRIGHT

    PORTLAND TIMBERS

    Karen Wright was selected as the Portland Timbers Community MVP for founding the Yamhill Carlton Soccer Club (YCSC) in 2010, and growing the club from 14 local players to over 300 registered club members, and 25 registered coaches.

    In 2014, over 4,000 hours were logged by more than 100 committed soccer volunteers of all ages for numerous charitable programs and events.

    Karen used the money she won from the Community MVP contest to purchase youth soccer goals for their club matches. Today, the organization runs a wide number of programs, including a Free Toddler Fun Time for children and parents, High School and Academy program for older players, and free training programs for coaches.

    STEPHEN SCHIRRA
    2016 WINNER
    “Unbeknownst to many, being in the charity field is often a thankless profession. We don't do the work that we do for any sort of accolades, we don't do it for recognition or fame, and money...well, we certainly don't do it for the money. Charity work is (and will always be) filled with its own share of ups and downs. And sometimes as a result you have to focus on the little triumphs because they are so often scattered few and far between immense failures and hardships.
    But that's truly why programs like the Community MVP contest are so important. Because although we don't need any sort of affirmation or award to remind ourselves that the work we are doing is positively impacting others, sometimes we just need that little push...that little bit of motivation to keep fighting the good fight.”

    STEPHEN SCHIRRA

    NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

    At the age of 23, Stephen Schirra set out on a mission to use sport as a vehicle to create positive change and make a difference in the world. Merging his passion for travel and the game of soccer, Stephen decided to bring a ball with him wherever he went. What followed were stunning shots of him freestyling in front of famous landmarks and beautiful locales.

    He started a blog called Around the Worlds, Around the World, and an Instagram account filled with gorgeous images from his travels. The name and his vision materialized into Around the Worlds, Around the World – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching soccer to underprivileged children all over the world.

    The money Stephen won from the Community MVP contest has allowed his organization to nearly double their impact. Today, they run successful programs in 23 countries, teaching the game of soccer to over 3,700 kids from 75+ different organizations. The organization continues to use their soccer program as a positive outlet for the kids they work with, who have all been thrust into trying circumstances since birth.

    Knowing how important it was to recognize those using sports to make a difference in the world, Stephen’s organization has started a permanent scholarship fund (established June 2017) that will award $1,000 to a graduating high school senior, male or female, who is using sports to make a difference in the local community.

    KEITH PALAU
    2017 WINNER
    “This whole experience will remain a highlight of my involvement as a Portland Timbers fan, a Timbers Army member, and someone who cares about members of our community who need a little extra love and support.”

    KEITH PALAU

    PORTLAND TIMBERS

    A long-time leader in the charitable actions of the Timbers Army’s 107ist organization, Keith was nominated as the Timbers Community MVP after creating Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC-themed visitation rooms in the Oregon Department of Human Services offices to provide a welcoming and warm environment for foster children and their families. In just 48 hours, Keith raised over $8,500 for the project and received a major donation from La-Z-Boy Furniture.

    Keith also organized a team of 93 volunteers, who dedicated nearly 800 hours of work toward the cleaning, priming, painting and staging of the visitation rooms at the Oregon Department of Human Services offices in Beaverton, Oregon.

    Through the Community MVP contest, Keith was able to provide funds to Embrace Oregon, an organization that connects caring community members with vulnerable children and families. Embrace Oregon has been able to increase its bandwidth in community mobilization, volunteer initiatives and foster family recruitment, and the funds have allowed them to impact nearly 2,000 individuals: children in foster care, biological families, foster families, and Department of Human Services staff.

    Vote for your Community MVP finalist to help them win $25,000!

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