On June 3, 2017, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, the Washington Capitals, and their fans came together again for the eighth straight year to help spruce up the Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Southeast D.C. NoVa Caps reader and diehard Capitals fan, Gene Wu, and his family helped participate in the renovations. In this article, Gene shares his experiences and thoughts on the Fort DuPont renovations.
The special guests this year were Capitals Coach Barry Trotz, his wife Kim, and their son Nolan; Red Rockers Laura and Kathleen; and, of course, the official mascot of the Washington Capitals, Slapshot. Tarik El-Bashir from CSN MidAtlantic was here at Fort DuPont to cover this event. As in years past, several projects had to be completed from painting halls and walls, to landscaping outside the arena, to sorting and separating and/or organizing hockey equipment.
Our family checked in after 9:00 AM. The MSE staff had every volunteer sign a waiver and asked them which project they would like to work on at the ice rink. Volunteers who arrived early got to select which project they wanted to work on for the day. This year, painting the top bleacher walls and walls under the front windows (The Frog Team) filled up first. Our friends, The Pursell’s (Chris, Hope, & Connor), were early enough to sign up for The Frog Team this year. Every volunteer also received a Caps Volunteer t-shirt and breakfast items from fruit to sugary snacks, to energy bars, and water. A DJ was there to play motivating music for the volunteers as they worked hard at their respective projects. Much of the music played can be heard during Caps warm-ups before the games.
Before we got started, Liz from MSE Foundation introduced staff members of Fort DuPont (team project leads). She mentioned that they were appreciative of the volunteers and the work that would be done today. Liz also mentioned that through the generosity of The Washington Capitals Fan Club and its members, through their fundraising selling memorabilia like autographed Christmas ornaments, they were able to donate $10,000 this year to Fort DuPont! How awesome is that?As the volunteers started heading for their respective projects, we saw Coach Trotz and his family become a part of The Star Team. The Star Team worked outside on landscaping, clearing the weeds, mulching, and cleaning up the sidewalks and parking lot. Heck, even Slapshot helped out with cleaning the glass and painting the walls (although I did hear he got some paint on his tail….shhhhh…..).
As parents to a now almost five-year old Capitals fan, we believe it is important for our son Marcus to continue to give back to the community and volunteer to help out the less fortunate. My wife Vicki and I decided that we would volunteer this year with sorting and organizing hockey equipment with The Paw Print Team. From hockey pants, to elbow pads, to socks and skates, to equipment bags, we were only able to get a fraction of the equipment sorted and organized. Eventually, Kim Trotz came over to our section and helped us out with the sorting and organizing of equipment. The Trotz family was definitely here to help out and work hard. That’s what was impressive to both Vicki and myself.
Around noon, the MSE staff let us know that it was lunch time and told us to finish up what we were doing. The volunteers were treated to Subway, drinks, chips, and a cookie. It was very nice of the folks to feed us as always. Like previous years, I was kind of disappointed that there weren’t more volunteers to help out.
Although MSE said there were over 100 volunteers, it seemed to me like less than 80 showed up. Maybe people signed up, but didn’t show up. If more volunteers would have showed up, it would have made a huge difference in getting more done so the Fort DuPont staff could concentrate on other items. Maybe this year we can really spread the word through social media to get even more Capitals fans to help out. Overall, it was a great experience to help out Fort DuPont by completing tasks and demonstrating to the next generation of Caps fans the power of volunteerism. Finally, LET’S GO CAPS! WE WANT THE CUP IN D.C.!!!!
By Gene Wu
Follow Gene on Twitter:Follow @TheWuWu
**All photos NOT captioned courtesy of Gene Wu**