Athletes don't just train exclusively on the field, court, or other sports venue. In fact, successful athletes often develop their skills in their everyday lives, away from the world of sports. Take, for example, Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice, who credits his legendary work ethic from his days growing up working as a brick layer with his father.
On November 10th, when thousands of public school students throughout New Jersey had the day off for the annual NJEA Convention, a group of local young athletes took some time to volunteer at the New Camden Cemetery, where they raked leaves from one of the Jewish sections that the JCF oversees. Perhaps it was training in disguise. Here's how this came about:
Brandy Gauthier, an Project Coordinator of Operations of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, also coaches the South Jersey Buckets, a competitive AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball program for girls ranging from 5th graders to high schoolers who reside in South Jersey.
Through her work with the JCF and Federation, Gauthier learned how volunteer groups occasionally visited the cemetery to help with a cleanup or mitzvah project, and she jumped at the opportunity to help at the cemetery. This team brought their rakes, gloves, and energy to ensure this half-acre of the cemetery was cleared out for visitors. Their efforts were exceptional!
According to Gauthier,
"Not only (is this team) passionate about the game we all love, but we have a vision and a culture that is much bigger than just basketball. We are empowering young women to not only develop and grow their skill within the sport, but also as teammates, friends and being a supporter and difference makers in their communities!
"We chose this particular act of community service to not only grow our bonds as teammates but also saw a need and a want to clean up a very important piece of the community that is so important and means so much to so many! We wanted families to be able to go visit their loved ones who have passed and see that we care about their place of rest! That it’s maintained and easy for them to visit their loved ones, especially around the holidays, without having to fight through piles of leaves and debris. So if they want to leave flowers or momentos that they have the space to do so!
"This was a great experience for the program and we look forward to many more acts of community service we will be able to do in the future!"
The Buckets did an incredible job of raking leaves and making the cemetery much more accessible for visitors.
Winners off AND on the Court
Here's the icing on the cake to this story: Over the weekend after volunteering at the cemetery, the Buckets won their championship by going 4-0 to end the season! Congrats and mazel tov to the entire team for this exciting news! You earned it!
A Big Thank You
From the entire Board and staff of the JCF, THANK YOU to all volunteers from the team who are pictured above and listed below, and especially to Brandy Gauthier for coordinating this meaningful experience:
Program Director/Coach- Brandy Gauthier
Coach- Bernie Hynson
Plus five parents who participated
What a great group!
To learn more about the Jewish sections of the New Camden Cemetery or to plan a cleanup or other mitzvah project on the grounds, please contact the JCF at 856-673-2528.