UFCW Local 152 is lucky enough to have thousands of great members. Each month, Local 152 spotlights one of our incredible members who selflessly goes above and beyond their daily, required routine to make a difference in their community, whether it be through charity work or making a more immediate difference in the lives of their neighbors.
This month, our Local 152 Leader is Jasper Washington, a five-year forklift driver at DWK Life Sciences in Millville, New Jersey. Jasper, or Jazz as he is better known, has been a volunteer football coach for the Millville Midget Football League for the past thirteen years, coaching children ages six through twelve. The league hosts about 150 kids between the four age groups and runs from July through December, concluding with a Super Bowl.
It all started when Jazz’s two sons, Darius and Tarrel, became old enough to be interested in team sports. Jazz initially stepped up to the plate to coach his sons, but then realized the hidden value of coaching young lives in a moderate income community. He recruited many other boys, mostly friends of his sons, after seeing them on the streets after school at such a young age.
“Football gives kids an outlet,” Jazz said, “but the league is so much more than just football.”
The Millville Midget Football League helps the boys understand and develop fundamental life skills and values, like creating a strong work ethic by putting hard work into practices, and also helps to create structure outside of the street. While the league is for kids under twelve, it is still mandatory for each child to maintain a grade policy similar to a typical high school football team. This means that if a child’s grades fall behind, the child can continue to practice with the team but will not participate in games. It is Jazz and his fellow coaches’ hope that this policy will teach the players to always value their education as priority.
Last year, the team was invited to play in the Hall of Fame Tournament in Delaware against other regional youth football leagues. You can watch the Millville Thunderbolts youth team get hyped up before the game, below:
Jazz has personally watched many of the children turn their local team sport into a passion, eventually moving onto the high school football team, also the Millville Thunderbolts, who in 2016 went on to win the State Championships. Additionally, some kids have even gone on to play for college teams, like Temple University’s senior running back Ryquell Armstead; #7 was originally a Thunderbolt.
Long after his two sons aged out of the league, Jazz has remained—first because he loves the kids, but also to continue to be a positive influence on the young lives in his community.
On average, the cost of having a child in the Millville Midget Football League easily totals to over $200 per child. There are many single parents in Millville who simply cannot afford the cost of having their child in a community football league. Recognizing this, the league often fully sponsors select players, mostly through company sponsorship, bake sales, and coin drive donations in front of various retail stores. Needless to say, every single dollar counts and new sponsors are always welcome. If you’re interested in sponsoring the Millville Midget Football League, you can contact the league via Facebook here. Sponsors are always showcased on the home field with a personalized banner, but perhaps more importantly, your donation may be the reason a child is given the opportunity to play in his local youth football league. Isn’t that worth more than exposure?
Jazz, on behalf of UFCW Local 152, thank you for your dedication to the youth in Millville! The impact you have made on the children in your town is certainly priceless, and we are lucky to have such caring members like you, acting as role models in your community.
See photos of Jazz coaching below:
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