Volunteering and soccer: An unforgettable combination

For PPL volunteer Ben, being involved in the community and giving back is important. Last year, his search for a meaningful way to spend his time outside of work led him to PPL’s after-school youth program in New Hope, where he was able to build strong relationships with youth and support their academic growth. He became a committed weekly volunteer for the spring semester, and says “I loved volunteering there! The other volunteers were all super great, kind people, and the kids were amazing; so full of love and appreciation. It was a really fulfilling, awesome experience for me.”

Ben’s fondest memory of PPL is an impromptu soccer game at a family event: “kids from three to 15 years old, boys and girls, running around barefoot, playing together and using trees as the goalposts. That was an incredible experience, and it’s a memory that’s stuck with me.” After the semester was over, while reflecting on his time spent there and the resources and means he had available, he decided he wanted to give his new young friends in New Hope an experience they wouldn’t forget. “I really felt a desire to invest in those kids, take them out to a game, and do something they might not do regularly –  something I would have liked when I was their age.”

Thanks to Ben’s initiative, a group of 12 youth from PPL housing in New Hope had the opportunity to attend a MN United soccer game in October, along with three other volunteers and a PPL staff member. Ben generously sponsored the event by purchasing all of the youth tickets and meals at the stadium.

As a highly anticipated and sold out last home game of the year, what a game to be at! “The game was awesome! The kids were pretty fired up, chanting and doing the wave. It was a good atmosphere. I think they had a lot of fun, and I did too. It was a blast.” They were able to watch MN United tie the game in the nail-biting final few minutes, but the highlight for some of the youth came at the end, when they stood at the edge of the field and high-fived the goalie as he left the stadium.

To anyone who might be considering volunteering or funding an event like this, Ben says, “It’s a phenomenal experience and even if you’re uncomfortable doing something new, take a leap of faith and try it. You learn as you go and I found it an incredibly rewarding experience for myself. I’m so happy I met all those kids, that I was a part of PPL and that I was able to provide the opportunity for them to go to a game.” Interested in volunteering or sponsoring an event? Contact Caitlin Dougherty at caitlin.dougherty@ppl-inc.org.

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