Sports In Service: Miami Dolphins Special Teams Gives Back to The Community

Back in December we shared how NFL’s Play Play60 Program is fighting childhood obesity and encouraging healthy living through organized play activities involving active volunteers. The work of the Miami Dolphins Special Teams is another example of how sports institutions can influence the lives and well-being of their fans and surrounding communities through “sports for service”.

By Leslie Nixon, Manager of Volunteer Programs for the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins Special Teams program is a community volunteer program that is open to volunteers of all ages to join in the fun of giving back to the community. Its mission is to offer hands-on services to communities and families in need, to partner with existing organizations on worthwhile social, civic and charitable programs, to provide assistance at Miami Dolphins Foundation events, and to support community efforts in times of emergency.

From Super Bowl to Special Teams

The program was launched in hopes of re-engaging Super Bowl XLIV and Pro Bowl 2010 volunteers into serving the community.  In its first year, the program did just that by facilitating the completion of more than 43,500 worth of community service by engaging more than 3,100 volunteers at more than 700 community events. The program provides volunteers to charitable organizations needing them for their upcoming events.

Finding charitable events that need volunteers is not as easy as it sounds, but by utilizing VolunteerMatch.org, the Miami Dolphins Special Teams program was able to provide volunteers for several charitable organizations who posted on the website. It is still a resource used by the program to seek out new volunteer opportunities.

Dolphins Take on Miami’s Shortage of Volunteers

In 2009, the city of Miami ranked dead last in the nation in percentage of volunteers and volunteer hours. To combat this problem, the organization created the program to use its brand to encourage volunteerism in the community.

Participants and followers of the program are now being exposed to volunteer opportunities in the community that they previously did not know existed. And it works in reverse as well; smaller charitable organizations are able to get their charitable missions broadcast on the Miami Dolphins Special Teams website and to the database of over 10,000 volunteers that follow the program. Maybe best of all is that there is no cost to participate by the volunteer or the charitable organization.

Volunteers also receive incentives for completing volunteer hours.  Incentives can include Miami Dolphins game tickets, merchandise and autographed footballs. Inspired by the completely philanthropic nature of the program, many of the volunteers in the program who have redeemed their incentive points have donated their items to some of the recipients of the causes for which they have volunteered. Actions like this give the program hope that Miami can relinquish its title as the worse ranked metropolitan city in volunteerism for three straight years.

If you are interested in joining the Miami Dolphins Special Teams as a volunteer, visit Dolphins.com/SpecialTeams. Charitable organizations needing volunteers can also send their requests to Volunteers@Dolphins.com.

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