Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Challenges in recruiting volunteers

I recently agreed to serve as the CYO director at St. Augustine Catholic Church, through my work in development and marketing at St. Augustine Catholic School. With the apparent demise of the Opportunity Scholarship program, it had become clear that we needed to more aggressively recruit parents who could afford to pay the school's tuition (currently $4,700). There are some parent volunteers at St. Augustine School and a strong volunteer ethic at the parish, but the CYO program has been limited to JV and Varsity basketball this current year.

Through signing up for three web-based volunteer services and using my own social network (Twitter, Facebook), I have come up with five volunteers, but only one seems resolved to attend the required 2-hour Child Protection workship and make a fingerprinting appointment, as required by the Archdiocese of Washington. It's also been a challenge to find volunteers in the areas where we have needs (e.g. CYO sports like basketball, soccer, softball and track and field). I am continuing to plug away and have the strong support of the pastor, which I am grateful for.

I am going to be meeting with a charter school head who is interested in talking about volunteerisim. Should be a good discussion.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

U.S. - El Salvador soccer match

On Saturday evening, the U.S. men's team took on El Salvador in a World Cup qualifier in San Salvador. From previous World Cup qualifying rounds, I had always thought that El Salvador had difficulty scoring, but they've now scored four goals in their last two matches (against Trinidad and the U.S.).

The U.S. came back in the last 10 minutes of the match to score two goals and end the match with a 2-2 draw.

Although their team is now at the top of the six-team table for CONCACAF World Cup qualifying (top three qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2010, with the fourth place team playing a playoff match against a South American team for the right to qualify), some U.S. fans are getting nervous. The New York Times Goal blog pointed out that if the U.S. loses against Trinidad at home on Wednesday and two other results come through that we could find ourselves in fourth place.

Oh no, Mr. Bill!

Calm down, people. The team showed great heart in Saturday night's match. Jozy Altidore and Jose Francisco Torres played great as substitutes. The boys won a lot of 50-50 balls in the last 15 minutes of the match, and their superior fitness showed. They earned a point on the road in a packed, loud stadium. This is great preparation for playing in Mexico and Honduras and ultimately South Africa in 2010. It was a thrilling match to watch, and I was very proud of our players at the end.

Having said that, I agree with those who are calling for U.S. coach Bob Bradley to shake up the lineup for tomorrow night's match against Trinidad & Tobago. I think starting Altidore and Torres makes a lot of sense. I think Jonathan Spector should start over Heath Pearce.

Haitian Birthday Party

On Saturday, I attended a Haitian birthday party for 5-year old Laura in Maryland. My four children (ages 5 to 9), whom I took with me, couldn't wait to get to Laura's house. "When will we get there?" was the refrain, as we made our way from the ATM to Toys-R-Us for the gift to the gas station. Finally, we made it to the family's house in Prince Georges County 90 minutes after the published start time.

Things were just getting started, and when we left four hours later, I had to pry my children away, since the children were just getting started with the pinata and they hadn't sung Happy Birthday yet to Laura. My son was particularly irate, but it was after 8:30 p.m. and time to go. Welcome to Haitian parties, kids!

My wife is Haitian-American, and I learned a lot about Haiti when I first got to know her and her family 15 years ago while in graduate school.

But I have to say I learned a great deal on Saturday night talking with my newfound Haitian buddies. I learned that it was Haitians who had kicked the Spanish out of what is now the Dominican Republic (courtesy of Yuri). I learned that the Haitian government didn't intercede to protect sugarcane workers and other Haitians who were slaughtered in the 1930s in the Dominican Republic because the Haitian government wasn't very stable, and it needed the Dominicans' help in rooting out Haitian dissidents who would use the Dominican side of the border to launch invasions.

I learned from Mario some of the attributes from the French that Haitians and other former French colonies have inherited. But I won't get into that, since it's not at all very politically correct!

By the end of the party, I declared to the hostess, Dominique, that "Haitians know how to throw a party." The kids had facepaint, I had a margarita and three Mike's Hard Lemonade in me, and I had eaten some delicious Haitian food (why don't we have a Haitian restaurant in the Washington area?).

I couldn't wait until the Flag Day party and our upcoming soccer pickup games (thanks Felix).

Mesi anpil!