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Third Annual Cocktails & Cleats Goes Above and Beyond Expectations for Union Foundation

Widespread community growth is what the Philadelphia Union Foundation strives for. Now, after the most successful event in foundation history, those visions and goals can come closer to a reality.

Held on April 22, the third annual Cocktails & Cleats raised more than $130,000 in net revenue, making it the most successful event in foundation history. With 450 people in attendance – a veritable who’s who in the local soccer scene – the event was a smashing success, and as Foundation Executive Director Rick Jacobs said, it couldn’t have happened without a total team effort.

“It was collaboration between Union ownership, foundation board members, Union staff, our first team and community leaders that came together and galvanized this most successful annual event,” the director said.

Team effort indeed. Even Union forward Andrew Wenger helped the cause, outbidding a few others to win a trip to Namibia for four people.

“What the foundation does for the community is really important to the entire organization,” Wenger said. “As a member of the first team, I can say we truly appreciate what the community does for us, but especially those here in Chester.”

Yes, with a wide range of items to be bid on including autographed Union paraphernalia, an ultimate Phillies experience at an upcoming game, a 5-day stay in Scotland and indeed an African safari, the success of the event required all hands on deck. It’s the type of effort that signifies the overall commitment from the organization to the area, and well as how far the annual event has come in just its third year.

As for the overall success of the event, consider it the culmination of everyone’s hard work. But as Jacobs said, the foundation is at its best when it is working with such established programs such as Boys & Girls Club of Chester, Local Union 413, Salvation Army, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Pennsylvania, Philabundance and Special Olympics just to name a few. And that’s truly what is at the core of this event.

“It’s a celebration of partnerships and relationships,” Jacobs said. “And it netted us the amount of money to help continue our plans to strengthen programming and opportunities within Chester and the Greater Philadelphia region.”

One of the beneficiaries of some of those relationships is Chester resident Dahkeem Williams. Williams has been involved with the foundation in a few areas including Chester City United, William Trippley Foundation and Special Olympics. He was invited to be one of event’s guest speakers.

“Speaking in front of an awesome crowd was a great opportunity but expressing how great the Philadelphia Union Foundation is, was an honor,” Williams said.

Now, the next – and most important – challenge for the foundation is to convert the event’s success back into the community. The revenue from the event will help feed the four pillars of the foundation – healthy lifestyle, community, recreation and education.

Specifically, the foundation has been able to launch new programs alongside Big Brothers/Big Sisters Pennsylvania and Philabundance. One new program launched with Big Brothers/Big Sisters will be held at PPL Park and will feature 25 kids from Toby Farms Middle School in Chester to meet with their “bigs” twice each month. Additional support will also go to Philadbundance’s new grocery store in Chester, Fare and Square Market, to help promote healthy and habits and hunger relief.

“Over the past year, we provided programs and activities that had a positive impact on 2,500 children with respect to character development, academic performance and physical well-being,” foundation chairman Mike Curry said.  “This achievement was only possible through the dedication and generosity of donors, supporters and members of the Philadelphia Union and Philadelphia Union Foundation.  

“The success of our Cocktails and Cleats event this year will help us continue with our mission,” he continued. “I encourage everyone to stay involved and help us enrich the lives of others through the game of soccer. We are very grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the communities that we serve and for the vote of confidence that we have received from our supporters.”

What is clear is that Union Foundation is making great strides in the local area. Although still relatively new, it’s obvious of the impact the foundation has already made, and is even more exciting to know what can happen in the future.

“The Philadelphia Union Foundation is in its infancy just launching from a blank sheet of paper less than three years ago,” Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said. “In such a short time, it has been an important pillar to our organization as it helps us carry out vital initiatives that give back to our community. We have a dedicated staff that is forging new relationships in Chester and the Greater Philadelphia region, and it takes a successful event like Cocktails and Cleats to be able to achieve the goals we ultimately want to reach. We are very proud of the success of this most recent event and must continue this great work in our community.”

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