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Winner will be announced at the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target in Orlando, Florida.

COMMUNITY MVP CONTEST

COMMUNITY
MVP
CONTEST

MLS fans can nominate themselves or an individual who sets an example as a leader 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
  • Sustainability efforts to create a cleaner and healthier environment

One (1) Community MVP is selected to represent each of the 24 MLS clubs. Winners are recognized, both nationally and locally. All 24 finalists are invited to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target in Orlando, Florida 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.

24 FINALISTS BUILDING BETTER COMMUNITIES

Who will win $25,000 for charity?
CLICK ON A FINALIST TO LEARN MORE AND PLACE YOUR VOTE
Bervine Harris
Bervine Harris Renaissance Youth Center
New York City FC New York City FC

For the past 30 years, Bervine Harris has dedicated his life to empowering youth to maximize their potential. Not an easy feat! His experience in youth services and community development are unmatched and he has helped create several successful programs throughout the Bronx community, and has left a lasting impact.

As co-founder, president, and CEO of Renaissance Youth Center, Mr. Harris has taken social development to the next level by providing services to almost 4,000 students a week. He manages, writes, and directs for the Music With A Message (MWAM) band, performing with them in close to 100 shows a year.

Mr. Harris’ dedication to providing quality holistic programming to youth is palpable. Renaissance Youth Center teaches the fundamentals of soccer, in addition to life skills and teamwork skills to youth between the ages of 4-12 every Saturday. Walk into a room or onto the field and ask him if he thinks the kids can accomplish anything – he’ll make you a believer.

Don’t let his humble demeanor fool you. Mr. Harris is one of the most giving and conscientious individuals you will ever meet, yet he makes you feel like the most special person in the room.

Amine Amrouni
Amine Amrouni Amaanah Refugee Services
Houston Dynamo Houston Dynamo

When you walk into practice on any given day, you see intensity, passion, and assertiveness from the Amaanah Lions Head Coach, Amine Amrouni. Amine is not the type of individual who demands attention (and usually prefers to remain in the shadows when you speak to him on a regular day). However, one cannot ignore his overpowering presence once he gets on the field and takes command of his players.

However, if there was any volunteer or individual that emits Maya Angelou’s quote of “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope,” it is Amine.

Aside from having a full-time job and family, Amine has invested so much time in these young refugee men through the discipline and love of soccer. The passion and pure love he has for the players and the desire to make a positive impact gives others energy, motivation, and hope.

It is said to have a heart of a lion is to display leadership, pride, and strength against adversity in trying times. All of the players are refugees, who have faced many challenges in their home country and experience trying times attempting to adjust in a new country with limited understanding of the language, resources, or culture once they make it to their host country. To be able to find a community of volunteer coaches who are just as diverse as they are, has these young refugee men feel like they belong, and to feel hopeful of their future is something that is worth noting. To call themselves the Amaanah Lions is a reflection of the resilience of these players, but upon a closer look, the heart of these Lions is a volunteer by the name of Amine Amrouni.

You can see in the photos the players’ expressions as he speaks to them. They look up to him as a lifetime mentor and coach. It is this mutual love and respect displayed between players and coach that is the reason why Amine is a true Community MVP.

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson The Karen Football Association
Minnesota United FC Minnesota United FC

Kyle has been involved in the local soccer community for the past ten years getting people of all ages, genders, and from our different ethnic communities playing pickup futsal. Most recently he was the girls soccer coach at Como Park High School in St. Paul and was one of the original Founders of Like a Girl, a non profit organization working with young women in underserved communities.

Currently, Kyle is the founder and Executive Director of the Karen Women’s and Men’s National Teams. The mission is to use soccer as a vehicle to promote gender equity and provide opportunity to the Karen community around the world.

Minnesota United FC highlighted Kyle during the Inaugural Home Opener of Allianz Field as L’Etoile du Nord-a program that recognizes individuals who are pillars of the community. If Kyle were to win this award, he would donate the $25,000 to The Karen Football Association whose core mission is gender equality.

Jennifer Gilson
Jennifer Gilson San Juan High School
Real Salt Lake Real Salt Lake

Jennifer Gilson is a coach of the San Juan High School girls’ soccer team in Blanding, Utah located in San Juan County. Blanding is a town with around 3,700 people. The Native American population comprises the majority of the county. For the past four years, the students at San Juan High School have advocated and fought for the creation of a soccer team at their high school.

They were confronted with many hurdles to overcome: raising money for goals and equipment and finding a qualified coach. In 2017, the students raised the $4,000 needed for goals from their small town and were given a provisional junior varsity status to compete. With this status, the team had to play all away games. But first they had to find a volunteer girls’ coach who was willing to dedicate her time to train them and travel up to five hours to compete against other teams. They found Jennifer Gilson.

Jennifer is a former college soccer player and the mother of five children. Jennifer’s husband is an officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corp. serving as a pharmacist for the Utah Navajo Health System. Prior to this assignment, they lived on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota for five years with the Lakota Sioux tribe. With Jennifer, the girls knew they found the perfect person to lead their inaugural team.

She is very passionate about soccer and helping the students succeed not only on the field, but off as well. She wants to train these students to be leaders in their community, not just good soccer players. When she works with these student athletes, she expects the best they have to offer, and she gives her best as well. Ultimately, it is people like Jennifer that make a community great.

Jennifer understands the power of sport in building a community, and her team couldn’t ask for a better coach.

This fall, the San Juan High girls’ team has had the provisional status lifted and will compete for the first time as a sanctioned Varsity team. They have been given a space at the middle school to host teams. This space needs improvements to become a high school soccer field and could benefit from the donation.

Adam Lewis
Adam Lewis Street Soccer USA
Portland Timbers Portland Timbers

Adam’s inspiration for starting Street Soccer USA in Portland came after a chance encounter with a childhood teammate.

Six years after their last season together, Adam’s teammate greeted him with an apology, rather than a hello. This teammate had just finished a stint in a correctional facility and felt like he had let their team down. After six years, this team meant that much to him, and Adam realized that he felt the same.

As a 23-year old, Adam quit a full-time position working in technology to use soccer, the sport he loved, to address Portland’s largest humanitarian crisis: homelessness.

Since launching in 2017, Adam has built Street Soccer to serve nearly 500 people from Portland’s homeless communities, refugee populations and individuals serving time in correctional facilities.

His ability to build Street Soccer’s reach and provide life-changing programming has inspired the Portland community address our most pressing issues with a renewed sense of empathy.

Cynthia Gonzalez
Cynthia Gonzalez Chicago PLAYS
Chicago Fire Chicago Fire

Cynthia has actively been coaching soccer for the past seven years, and utilizes her platform as a coach to create sanctuary spaces for students to access other sports and express their individuality. As a coach, one of Cynthia’s main goals for her students, along with having fun, is to promote the essential needs for making healthy food choices and promoting physical activity as part of a daily routine. She is dedicated to ensuring equitable experiences for all of her student athletes by building strong relationships with each of them, their teachers, and families. Her motto is “once they are one of my athletes/students, they are always my athletes/students.”

Cynthia dedicates herself as a teacher and coach to support her student athletes both on and off the field. She strives to integrate significant team building opportunities to help students develop key character traits that they can utilize off of the field and in their everyday lives. Coaching for her is more than teaching a sport – it’s a platform to develop conscious and competent citizens. Very often, she has integrated opportunities for students to participate in volunteer work so she can keep them grounded for bigger experiences, make them aware that they should enjoy privileges such as free programs as PLAYS, and to also give back and support other ventures within the school and community.

Along with being competent citizens, she is a huge advocate of reinforcing that her children are students first, and athletes second. She dedicates time to communicate with teachers and families to ensure they are holding themselves accountable in their homes and classrooms.

Cynthia always prides herself on being a role model for her students and leading by example – and we are thankful for everything she does in our community.

Charity Blackwell
Charity Blackwell DC SCORES
D.C. United D.C. United

Born in Arizona, raised in South Carolina and for many years now, repping the DMV area, Charity is the Director of Arts Education for DC SCORES, the Official Community Partner of D.C. United. Charity is an extraordinarily talented artist, but, moreover, is an incredible role model for thousands of DC youth in the DC SCORES after-school program, which mixes soccer, poetry and community service to form year-round teams for 3,000 at-risk kids per year.

A college soccer player, Charity now helps young artists find their way in the DC spoken word poetry community and also coaches the same kids on soccer pitches across the city. She is an outspoken activist against domestic violence and in support of the LGBTQ community. In addition to coaching, performing, and hosting poetry events, Charity works with the Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags Organization (DVWMT) & Johnson Memorial Baptist Church, encouraging kids to use words as a creative way to express healthy emotions. The Executive Director of DVWMT noted, “Charity has been a beacon of light to the Washington DC communities with her continued support on helping DVWMT break the strongholds of domestic violence.”

Charity has been a finalist for a DC Mayor’s Arts Award and was recently featured in both a national commercial for VW airing during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and an MLS-produced video, The Movement, about the untold history of soccer in DC.

Kweku Bonsu
Kweku Bonsu Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida
Orlando City SC Orlando City SC

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Kweku Bonsu who is really known as “Dr. Soccer” comes to the club every day and makes a positive impact with each child he comes across. Dr. Soccer is known for his high spirited energy on and off the field. His full of life energy, passion for soccer, and relationship building instantly draws our youth when our club members get on the field.

Dr. Soccer visits four Boys & Girls Clubs in the Central Florida area: Pine Hills, Carver Shores, Parramore and Eatonville. At each location Dr. Soccer respects each club member’s ability and learning level of the sport and welcomes all to participate. At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, we feel that Dr. Soccer is a great example of a Community MVP because over the years he has made a positive impact with our youth in the Central Florida community.

He demonstrates many attributes of people that have a passion for giving back to the community. We get to see the impact he has on our youth every day on and off the field. We appreciate his dedication to our youth and our community!

Ken Dubuc
Ken Dubuc Campbell County Youth Soccer League
FC Cincinnati FC Cincinnati

Ken has volunteered as a board member for Campbell County Youth Soccer League for almost 25 years. He has continued to volunteer his time in the recreational soccer league well after his own daughters moved on to high school teams. During his time, he has served countless hours as President, Secretary, and Coaching Director, and helped introduce the sport of soccer to over 22,000 children. While many players have moved on to competitive leagues, high school, and college soccer, he has taken pride in providing quality introductory soccer to the youth players in Campbell County, Kentucky.

Last year, Ken was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a very rare cancer in the of the left side of his face. While going through radiation and surgical treatment, he never missed a board meeting, and continued to referee games for the club. He arrived one morning to officiate four matches, and a tooth fell out as a side effect of his radiation. He insisted on staying and officiated all four matches.

Four months after radiation and surgery to remove the affected areas of his face and neck, he visited his oncologist for a follow up only to find out the cancer has returned to his face, and spread to areas around his throat, and next to his heart. He has continued to attend each of the board meetings and oversee the administration of our club despite being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

His strength and bravery is admired by club members as he faces this ominous challenge.

Nico Calabria
Nico Calabria American Amputee Soccer Association
New England Revolution New England Revolution

Nicolai was born with one leg and hip…and an unquenchable passion for soccer. At age 5, he traded his prosthetic leg for forearm crutches and began playing organized “able-bodied” soccer—with crutches! Nico played in middle school, and on his high school’s varsity soccer team. Nico never lost the drive for this beautiful game and is today the captain of the USA National Amputee Soccer Team. In addition, he is the all-time leading scorer for the United States with 17 international goals.

Nicolai is a member of an amputee community in this country that includes over two million people, a number which grows daily by 500, as well as his hometown community of Concord, MA. From an early age he has been an inspiration to both, demonstrating what can be achieved through determination, grit and hard work. People with limb differences look to him as an example of what is possible. Able-bodied people look at him and are forced to reconsider their preconceptions about what is not possible. What greater value can one offer to a community than to help it leave behind outdated and prejudicial stereotypes, while offering hope to those who may have suffered traumatic loss or lifelong challenges.

At age thirteen, he became the first person to ever summit 19,341 ft. Mount Kilimanjaro on crutches. He dedicated his climb to fundraising for the Free Wheelchair Mission and brought in more than $100,000 for the organization, which used it to provide 2,000 wheelchairs to disabled individuals who could not otherwise afford one. In addition to demonstrating once again that a disability does not need to limit one’s ambitions or accomplishments, he also illustrated how one person could dramatically improve the lives of others. He is a role model in his community and has been invited to speak at numerous schools to help encourage a “pay it forward” ethos and to help able bodied people look with new eyes on the abilities of those with physical differences.

Now a young adult, Nicolai has dedicated himself to a career in education and is currently working with special needs children at the Concord Carlisle High School, where he also coaches the junior varsity boy’s soccer team.

Most recently he has embarked on a campaign to help establish a regional amputee soccer team in the northeast of the United States. He has already reached out to local facilities and people living with amputation to empower them to come and try this sport. Nicolai envisions opportunities that will allow those living with amputation an alternative, free way to become part of a team and play soccer. The community model that Nicolai has structured is one that can be replicated in many areas throughout the United States and leads to infinite opportunity for those that engage. Individuals that attend these introductory clinics will have opportunities to play and learn together, improving their skills that will allow them to play for their regional team in the United States and to compete for a roster spot on the US National Amputee Soccer Team. Nicolai has not stopped at the local or even the national level. Nicolai has also dedicated time and energy to help amputee soccer become recognized as a Paralympic sport to benefit those playing worldwide.

Jeremy Hollon
Jeremy Hollon Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) Community Connectors
Columbus Crew SC Columbus Crew SC

Jeremy oversees a youth mentoring program for refugee and immigrant youth in Columbus called CRIS Community Connectors.

Through the program, Jeremy helps middle and high school students by finding them a friend in the community to assist with academics, employment, and language, but also feeling welcomed and supported in their new city of Columbus.

Since the program started in 2016, they have served over 400 students in 16 schools and three districts. In addition to just mentoring, they strive to show not only their students, but all of Columbus, that all humans matter and should be appreciated for their individuality and humanity. They paint murals within the city and in schools to continually showcase our unity through diversity.

However, one of their largest aspects of our programming is soccer. As you can imagine serving children from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central/South American soccer is incredibly important to them. From pick-up games in parks, to the wonderful ticket donations from Columbus Crew SC, to an annual fundraiser called the Columbus Nations Cup…soccer is always the forefront of how students develop, grow, and make new friends.

Within the program, over 52 countries are represented, as well as countless languages, religions, cultures, and experiences. The kids have seen genocide, extreme poverty, war, discrimination, famine, and death, but continue to smile and move forward in their lives. Every student is different, but every student is also the same; a Columbus’ian and a new American.

They are also incredibly proud of the community outreach our program is able to achieve, this past year alone they received almost $100,000 in donated supplies, soccer balls, tickets for Columbus Crew SC matches, and also STEM field-trips and transportation. The community is truly united through this program. College students, young professionals, veterans, and retirees all come together to volunteer within the program to ensure everyone feels at home, regardless of how new that home is.

The program is founded on the notion of seeing what “one” can do. One person, one hour of time per week, one moment of inspiration and hope. One person, far from home and making their way to Columbus. One person right here, who understands what being human demands. One community that sees the American in everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from. One city that acts as a beacon, that understands the value of being open, true, and good. It is truly wonderful what one can do.

Greg Bodzioch
Greg Bodzioch E-Sports
San Jose Earthquakes San Jose Earthquakes

E-Soccer is an all-volunteer, inclusive soccer program where kids with typical and special needs participate alongside each other. Dedicated to empowering children of all abilities, E-Soccer’s inclusive environment promotes leadership as well as social, character, and athletic development for all kids in an individualized manner. Children are taught to learn from one another.

Greg is the Director and Co-Founder of the program and has worked extensively to ensure that soccer and sports are available to all youth of our community–regardless of ability. Working with coaches, volunteers, families and community members, Greg has been a longstanding community leader in the quest to ensure equitable sports programming is available to anyone.

As an undergraduate at UCLA, he played semi-pro in LA for the Westside Surf and then San Fernando Valley Golden Eagles. Greg spent his junior year of college studying and playing abroad at University of Madrid. After graduating from UCLA with a BA in Psychology, Greg moved back to Texas and played with the Dallas Rockets of the Southern USISL. In 1990, Greg received a scholarship for graduate study at the University of Maryland, College Park and completed his Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

In 2000, Greg and longtime friend Russ Ewell started the first E-Soccer program. He has led E-Sports to grow to over 1,000 kids participating annually in multiple sports programs around the Bay Area and internationally.

Jason Brooks
Jason Brooks Diversity in Our Soccer
Atlanta United FC Atlanta United FC

Coach Jason is a committed community leader and mentor to players in his organization, Diversity in Our Soccer. As the founder of Diversity in Our Soccer, Jason has brought free soccer clinics to Atlanta’s youth, teens, and young adult players. Coach Jason has also volunteered several years of his time to coach with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and has always been a positive example of leadership and good sportsmanship, with a player development focused coaching style.

Coach Jason keeps a level head when working in challenging situations and is always open to brainstorm with others to come up with positive solutions to challenges. He always has his eye on the future of Atlanta and has met with other volunteers and enthusiastic soccer fans to discuss the future of soccer in the city. COach Jason is always looking for ways to advocate for young players to ensure access to superior and affordable soccer programs.

The Atlanta community is so grateful for him!

Chip Dutchik
Chip Dutchik Special Olympics Texas
FC Dallas FC Dallas

Chip loves soccer, as well as using athletic events as an opportunity to build relationships both in and out of the soccer community. This is demonstrated through his volunteering and leadership with the FC Dallas Special Olympics Unified soccer team. Chip has used his athletic and coaching talents to help guide and grow the FC Dallas Special Olympics Unified Academy. The Academy practices several times throughout the soccer season. The practices and scrimmages give Special Olympic athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and Unified partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) an opportunity to improve their soccer skills and build friendships on the soccer field. Chip shares his passion for soccer and his acumen for the game in his leadership throughout the practice, but it is the smiles and the connections he makes that mean the most to him.

Although Chip can be seen volunteering in various events throughout Dallas, his day job is Head Soccer Coach for Dallas Baptist University (DBU). Chip is a true example of mentoring college athletes and sharing the importance of giving back to the community. The DBU soccer team has been an important component to the FC Dallas Special Olympics Academy. The Special Olympic athletes enjoy training with the college team, especially looking forward to the exciting scrimmages playing alongside their new friends.

Chip not only shares his love for soccer in our community but last year, he went on a mission trip with his soccer team to Denia, Spain. Soccer is a common thread in Chip’s story, but his ease at making connections and friendships throughout the soccer world is his true gift!

Brian Broyles
Brian Broyles Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation
Colorado Rapids Colorado Rapids

When Brian joined the Colorado Rapids Power Soccer program, he instantly energized it. In addition to coordinating weekly practices, equipment purchases, and practice locations, he speaks with other programs across the country to organize national camps and tournaments. Brian’s son, Cameron, is the person that drives him. His involvement comes from the love and support for Cameron, who has Cerebral Palsy.

Cameron states, “Most people with physical disabilities are not thought of as athletes. Power soccer is a real sport and it’s changing lives, including mine. Imagine if you never had the opportunity to play in a real sport because of physical limitations. My name is Cameron Broyles, I’m 14 years old and I have Cerebral Palsy. Playing in a competitive team sport just wasn’t ever part of my reality until recently. I discovered power soccer! Power soccer is a growing sport played in 20 different countries where kids like me use their power chairs equipped with guards and bigger soccer balls. Power soccer has become one of the most freeing things I can do, and I’m becoming good at it.”

If you attend a weekly practice, you will find Brian arriving early, setting up the goals, and marking the field. As the players show up, he will start bolting on the guards necessary for the power chairs (usually between 8 and 12 chairs). Once the players are set up, he starts his practice, running them through drills. He never waivers from being undeniably positive and supportive!

Nobody has made more of a difference in elevating his athlete’s self worth and sense of community than Brian. A good portion of his team has to use public transportation, which requires a significant commitment on their behalf and he routinely gets most of his players to practice weekly – an indication to the positive and fun environment he is building. His players range in both gender and age, and the smile he puts on their face when they roll into the gym is priceless.

The Community MVP Grand Prize award of $25,000 would allow Brian to do so many great things for a group of athletes that have very limited opportunities to compete in athletics. He has big plans to build a community around Power Soccer, not only in Denver…not only in Colorado, but across the region and county.

The mission at Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation is to bolster independence, improve self-confidence and esteem, elevate social interaction and heighten one’s quality of life by providing financial and organizational support, so that people of all ages with physical disabilities have the opportunity to participate in organized sports programs. And above all, they do this so their athletes can build their community and have fun. They touch over 500 athletes completing on 13 teams and many camps and clinics. It is an All-Volunteer organization and rely on them to carry their mission and make the athlete’s experience the very best it can be. The spectrum of how they elevate our athletes is very wide and deep, but at the heart is happiness and smiles of our athletes. But nobody gets more excited or more energized than Brian to see his players and help them grow!

Omri Gal
Omri Gal Chester Upland Youth Soccer
Philadelphia Union Philadelphia Union

Omri is a student-athlete at Swarthmore College. Before his final season of collegiate soccer, he decided to take the year off from school to launch Design FC. DFC was founded in partnership with Chester-Upland Youth Soccer, with support from the Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility. It is an after-school program in Chester (PA), working with 5th and 6th graders on encouraging creative thinking and self expression through design. Students spent the year designing their own unique soccer jerseys, in which they expressed what means most to them, their families, their city, what they want to change in the world, and more. Recently, students were asked by the Philadelphia Union and adidas to help design the new jersey for Chester’s high school soccer team.

As someone who has played soccer his whole life, Omri is passionate about using sport and creativity to push for social change. The vision for DFC is to form a youth creative network across the United States, in which students can tell their stories through the design of sports jerseys and other apparel.

Steven Cruz
Steven Cruz Academia de Futbol Juvenil Amatense
Los Angeles FC Los Angeles FC

From a young age, Steven has been traveling to El Salvador where he would spend his summers in his mother’s hometown – a rural community called Los Amates. Despite not having much in common with the children in this community Steven saw that there was a common language they all spoke – it was soccer. Soccer brought him closer to the children in Los Amates, and Steven witnessed the disparities the children endured on a daily basis: limited water, lack of education, and severe poverty.

As Steven grew older and continued visiting his mother’s hometown, he saw the children he once played soccer with were now involved with the local gang. Unfortunately, gang recruitment and violence is very prevalent in communities of Central America.

Unwilling to allow this image to define the people of this community, Steven started Academia de Futbol Juvenil Amatense (AFJA), a LA based non-profit that recycles any lightly worn soccer equipment and builds sustainable soccer academies in Central America. I have seen firsthand how Steven and his organization have impacted a large group of the Central American community in Los Angeles.

Since starting AFJA, a total of three soccer academies have been established. Each student enrolled must abide to three requirements – good academic standing, attendance, and community service. The implementation of requirements has positively impacted the children in these communities. Within the last two years, AFJA has seen a large portion of students are moving on to higher education (where normally, many of the children would not go past fourth grade).

Vincent Cournoyer
Vincent Cournoyer Association Défi Futsal
Montreal Impact Montreal Impact

In 2008, Vincent founded the Association Défi Futsal, whose mission is to help young kids from underprivileged neighborhoods while contributing to the development of futsal and soccer. Vincent and the ADF started the Défi Futsal, which consists of more than 25 futsal events targeting elementary school students. In 2010, he was a finalist for the Dollard-Morin Sports and Recreation Volunteer Award, and in 2011 and 2012, he was the recipient of the Leadership and Social Engagement Award handed out by the RSEQ. A gold medalist in four Canadian championships and a former member of the Canadian Futsal and Beach Soccer teams, Vincent has put in place a soccer program at the Premières Seigneuries school board, training the Élans de Garneau FD1.

Since 2007, he’s put in place a futsal/soccer school that offers camps at modest prices and welcomes those with less financial means free of charge. Vincent has also held conferences on dropping out of school and established the first inclusive soccer/futsal program in Quebec.

Vincent is a role model on and off the field. He has one passion: soccer.


Vincent a fondé, en 2008, l’Association Défi Futsal, qui a pour mission d’aider des jeunes de milieux défavorisés et de collaborer au développement du futsal et du soccer. Vincent et l’ADF ont mis sur pied les Défis Futsal, plus de 25 événements de futsal qui s’adressent particulièrement aux jeunes du primaire. En 2010, il a été finaliste pour le Prix du bénévolat en loisir et en sport Dollard-Morin et en 2011 et 2012 il a été récipiendaire du prix Leadership et engagement social décerné par le RSEQ. Médaillé d’or dans quatre championnats canadiens et ancien membre de l’équipe canadienne de futsal et de beach soccer, Vincent a mis en place une concentration soccer à la Commission scolaire des Premières Seigneuries et entraine les Élans de Garneau FD1.

Depuis 2007, il a mis en place une école de soccer/futsal qui offre des camps à prix modique et accueille également des participants moins bien nantis gratuitement. Vincent a également donné des conférences sur le décrochage scolaire. Il a aussi mis sur pied le premier programme de soccer/futsal inclusif au Québec.

Vincent est un modèle autant sur les terrains qu’à l’extérieur. Il n’a qu’une passion: le soccer.

Wendy Louque
Wendy Louque Youth RISE
Sporting Kansas City Sporting Kansas City

Wendy has consistently demonstrated an insatiable desire to improve her community. She has started several programs locally to give underserved children the opportunity to grow through sport and through mentor programs. Notably, Youth RISE KC has provided opportunities for youth to develop skills and learn about teamwork, leadership, resilience, responsibility, the importance of education, interpersonal skills, and athletics. Additionally, Wendy has started several soccer programs that help local refugee youths become acclimated to their new lives in the United States.

Additionally, Wendy runs free skill training every week throughout the summer with her WPSL team (KC Courage) at Mission Southside – a local Latino-focused charity. In another weekly training program, KC Courage Valiente, Wendy runs a free weekly futsal training course for girls in Wyandotte County. Wendy uses the platform of soccer to reach countless overlooked, under-served youth in the Kansas City area and we are extremely fortunate to have her in our community.

We would be remiss if we did not take the time to acknowledge all of the good she is bringing to Kansas City and to hopefully help her continue doing great things!

Sam Garrison
Sam Garrison Newark Public Schools
New York Red Bulls New York Red Bulls

Sam Garrison is a community MVP because of his vision, commitment and impact as a principal of the Camden Street School in Newark New Jersey.

Firstly, Mr. Garrison sees a community’s potential, not just their needs. He believes every community has the power to transform lives of other people within the community. In short, he sees tremendous hope when a community is given a hand up, instead of merely a handout. To this end, he has produced a vision of providing for families in crisis while coaching families in the area of self-improvement and actualization.

Accordingly, Mr. Garrison has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of his 662 students and their families. The school’s mantra “Camden Cares” is evident in the programs, events and assistance that are provided on a consistent basis. For example, there is the “Camden Care Room,” which boasts a washer and dryer for families to use so that students have clean clothes. The care room also provides nonperishable food items, diapers, clothes, school supplies, books, school uniforms and toiletries year round to families in need. Additionally, the school provides a Thanksgiving Dinner giving food, clothes, gift cards and household supplies to thousands of families over the last seven years.

Most recently, principal Garrison in partnership with New York Red Bulls, Wells Fargo and Major League Soccer, constructed a soccer pitch for the Camden Street Students and the community. The response has been nothing less than amazing from the youth and the community – the students can be seen playing soccer even in the rain!

Mr. Garrison’s vision, commitment and impact, espouses his nomination for Community MVP and potential consideration for the charitable donation.

Christine OConnell
Christine OConnell Strong Against Cancer at Seattle Children's Hospital
Seattle Sounders FC Seattle Sounders FC

On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, longtime Seattle Sounders FC fan, Christine O’Connell received news that changed her family’s lives forever: “Your child has cancer.” The O’Connell’s daughter, Jane, who was three at the time, was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer that had spread to her lungs, lymph nodes and spine.

As their family navigated childhood cancer treatment, Christine learned some sobering facts about lack of funding for research and the late effects that plague childhood cancer survivors. Then she learned there was a better way. Seattle Children’s is pioneering immunotherapy trials to use a child’s own immune system to fight cancer. That’s when Christine went to work.

Christine combined her passion for soccer and Sounders FC with her mission to kick childhood cancer by launching Scarves Fighting Cancer. “I knew if I could spread the word of the world-class research being done right here in our own backyard, our Sounders FC community would rally to help these kids.”

Her scarf creations, designed while she stayed in the hospital with Jane, include one emblazoned with “Brian Schmetzer’s Rave Green Army” (from the Emerald City Supporters’ chant). Another reads “Roldan is Hungry” — with pizza slices at each end — to poke gentle fun at midfielder Cristian Roldan’s seemingly insatiable appetite. She enlisted the support of Sounders players to help, most notably goalkeeper and artist, Stefan Frei, who designed a scarf himself for the effort. Sold only during September for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the first sale, in 2017, raised $18,000 for Strong Against Cancer at Seattle Children’s. She sold scarves again the following year as well as t-shirts celebrating Sounders players and raised over $30,000. Christine is gearing up for this September’s sale with the goal of raising even more. “I have to be relentless as cancer,” she says.

Jane’s cancer has been in remission for almost two years, but Christine is wary of what the future holds. “The cancer fight never really ends,” she notes, bracing with the knowledge that relapse is still a very real possibility for children in Jane’s position. Yet she is hopeful that the immunotherapy research at Seattle Children’s will spare other children the road Jane had to endure. “With the right support, I know we’ll see a cure for childhood cancer without chemotherapy and radiation in my lifetime,” Christine promises, “and I’m going to help them find it.”

Kal Dosanjh
Kal Dosanjh Kids Play Youth Foundation
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Kal Dosanjh has the ability to not only be there as a pillar of strength for his family and friends, but to complete strangers as a member of the community at large.

Kal’s call to service began more than 20 years ago as he began his career in law enforcement. Even in a professional capacity he puts his community before himself and has put his life on the line to ensure the safety of its citizens, including having served as a patrol officer for 15 years in the Downtown EastSide, one of the most volatile areas of Western Canada.

As a family man and father of two, working the streets as a beat cop impacted Kal greatly, as he saw firsthand how children from his own community were ending up on the streets due to a lack of guidance or positive programming to keep them occupied. Almost a decade ago, he began running small soccer tournaments for children in the Downtown EastSide under the Police Athletic League Banner. He did this on his own time, as a volunteer. The objective was to establish a positive rapport with the kids, develop a relationship between the kids and the officers, and provide a positive constructive outlet for them to channelize their energies. Later on, he founded the Kids Play Foundation, a nonprofit organization working towards keeping youth away from negative influences such as drugs, gangs, and violence through sports and education. Through the organization, he is able to provide free programs to the larger community as a whole. Kal is someone who recognizes the inherent value in providing sports and education programs to youth for the purpose of instilling strong fundamental habits and qualities – teamwork, dedication, perseverance, and much more.

Since its inception in 2015, Kids Play has put over 60,000 kids through our entirely free programming such as organized sports, conferences, after school programs with the Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley school boards, as well as other miscellaneous projects. There are over 500 youth volunteers who have joined the organization. All of Kids Play programs are free of cost and run solely by volunteers. Kal himself runs the organization in a volunteer capacity. The small soccer tournament which he started almost a decade ago, has turned into an annual Vancouver Whitecaps FC supported tournament held at BC Place Stadium, which hosted just shy of 800 kids, and over 300 youth volunteers, in 2019.

Given all his community work, parents and teachers also feel so comfortable with Kal that he often receives phone calls on his cell phone (a number he gives away freely!) from parents who want his advice on how to handle situations with their own kids or just to say thank-you or provide updates on how their kids are doing. It is this level of involvement, this one-on-one support, that Kal is known for.

Kal’s original vision was to create young leaders within the community who would continue the cycle of giving back, and I can proudly attest to the fact that we have seen our members turn into young professionals in various fields, including law enforcement (police officers, sheriffs) and many of them return to continue to volunteer within the Foundation and mentor other youth.

On a personal level, he is consistently supporting local causes and charities but also encourages all those he meets to get involved in not only Kids Play Youth Foundation, but any community cause that supports future generations. He instills the concept of volunteerism into all those he meets. This becomes very evident when not only do his colleagues from the RCMP and VPD, but his friends, family and other community leaders show up to Kids Play events to get their hands dirty and do whatever is required to make the event a success.

Kal’s ability to make everyone feel important and part of a larger goal is one of his amazing qualities that draws people in. He has inspired so many to not only give back, but stay engaged in their local community!

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith Best Buddies Canada
Toronto FC Toronto FC

Andrew Smith has been an active member of Best Buddies Canada for over 10 years. The Best Buddies College/University Program pairs individuals with and without an intellectual or developmental disability in one-to-one lasting friendships. Andrew knows that friendship is a great way for people with disabilities to fully participate in their community. He has had two buddies from the University of Toronto and has developed strong relationships with both of them.

Andrew, is a sports enthusiast, and uses soccer as a way to bring people together and promote inclusion for everyone. By inviting friends with and without disabilities to Toronto FC games, Andrew creates an opportunity for everyone to feel included and have experiences they may not have otherwise.

Andrew doesn’t let his disability stand in his way! As a leader in his community, he is an active member of Best Buddies and has changed many lives. He is an exceptional advocate for others living with a disability and an incredible ambassador for Best Buddies Canada. When Andrew sees that someone is excluded, or in need of a friend he takes it upon himself to connect them with Best Buddies, and invite them to fun events such as TFC Games!

His big smile and positive attitude has resulted in him meeting with many celebrities such as Drake, Shaquille O’Neil, Michael Bradley and many more. Please support Andrew and his message of inclusion and friendship for all!

Jeaney Garcia
Jeaney Garcia Positive Coaching Alliance - Los Angeles
LA Galaxy LA Galaxy

Jeaney Garcia deserves to be a Community MVP because she changes lives daily in Los Angeles and surrounding communities.

Jeaney has been a Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) trainer for 20 years, teaching youth athletes, coaches and parents to prioritize learning life lessons and character through participation in sports. For the last two years, Jeaney has been working with underserved youth at Galaxy Community Clinics, which serve some of the most at-risk communities in Los Angeles.

Jeaney works with kids ranging from 5-15, teaching principles that promote kindness, caring, positivity and confidence. The primary message Jeaney teaches is Filling Emotional Tanks – how to give compliments, support your friends and classmates, and how to show respect, compassion and empathy. Some of the kids she works with are in homeless shelters or after-school programs because their parent(s) work multiple jobs, or are part of community sports programs serving our most vulnerable.

The Galaxy Foundation, a supporter of PCA-Los Angeles, integrates PCA into community clinics to set the stage that soccer plus life lessons can change lives. For example, a little girl told Jeaney she never received a compliment before, so Jeaney complimented her hair and then taught her how to give compliments – a simple gesture to help her cope with the trauma of being in a homeless shelter. Another girl confided that soccer is all she has for herself, having to care for three siblings while only in Middle School.

Jeaney has worked with thousands of kids over the years giving them the tools to feel better about themselves and those around them. Jeaney’s energy is infectious with the kids and adults who have the chance to laugh and feel good long after Jeaney’s Workshops.

Jeaney also works with middle school after-school programs, high school students, coaches and parents providing tools to create a Development Zone where kids feel safe and cared for while participating in youth and high school sports. Jeaney has a strong passion for coaching girls and has trained coaches who are part of Girls Play LA, the program supported by the Mayor’s Office promoting girls playing multiple sports. Jeaney is leading a new Character Program in LA City Rec & Parks where summer campers can learn how to fill each other’s Emotional Tanks, realize mistakes are OK and that effort and learning are the most important things kids can control. She is part of the Women’s Coaching Collaborative with the LA84 Foundation and WeCoach, who bring youth sports partners together to promote female coaching to create role models and play equity.

A Certified Master Athletic Administrator, former Athletic Director, a marathoner and World Pickleball Champion, in her “spare” time Jeaney teaches Pickleball lessons and runs tournaments at local Parks, attracting the young and young at heart to play together.

A quote from Nichol Whiteman, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, “I’ve seen Jeaney change lives by connecting with kids who in some cases have very little to connect with.”

#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.

    ADRIAN CONOBOY
    2018 WINNER
    “The MLS WORKS Community MVP contest was an unbelievable experience! I was blown away to be nominated…let alone win. With this donation we can continue to grow our charity and support children and young adults affected by cancer through the power of soccer. Thank you to everyone who voted, and to Major League Soccer, Wells Fargo and everyone at New York City FC. Together…We Can Kick It!”

    ADRIAN CONOBOY

    New York City FC Representative

    In 2016, 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.

    Conoboy 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.

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

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