Editor’s Note: The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back to his community, and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington, for participation in an event with Wisconsin Literacy. The third-year pro helped raise money for the state-wide coalition that provides essential literacy programs to adults.
Following a successful debut in 2014, the NFL Players Association is proud to bring back the Community MVP program for a second season.
Giving back to the community is nothing new for Sam Barrington. The linebacker, in only his third NFL season, was given the Packers’ 2015 Community Service Award at the annual Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce "Welcome Back" luncheon earlier this month. It was only natural to the Jacksonville native that he headline a fundraiser for Wisconsin Literacy on September 8, even with the start of the season on the horizon.
“It is rewarding to me to show that it is possible to achieve anything that you put your mind to and that you can achieve your dreams with resources that come from an amazing organization like Wisconsin Literacy,” Barrington told the NFLPA. “Their goal is to improve lives and help people with the resources that they need to succeed. This is what I experienced myself as a kid and I want to pay it forward.”
Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. is a non-profit coalition of 76 community-based literacy programs located throughout the state. Its member programs provide much needed services to adults and families through dedicated staff and well-trained volunteer tutors. More than 1.5 million Wisconsin adults qualify for literary services.
Attendees of the charitable event, which celebrated 30 years of accomplishments by Wisconsin Literacy, were treated to a meet and greet with Barrington, who took time to ‘talk shop’ about the Packers’ upcoming season and the importance of literacy in a child’s development. The starting inside linebacker was also part of a different kind of kickoff celebration as the coalition opened its 12th annual statewide tutor recruitment season.
“The best parts of the dinner were the laughs that I shared with the individuals at the event,” Barrington said. “We all had come from different walks of life, but for us, to share laughs and connect on issues that we all have in common, it was an amazing thing!”
The event is just one of the ways Barrington is aiding Wisconsin residents this season. His first annual “Green and Gold” charity event, hosted in partnership with the Dreambuilders Foundation, on October 12 will raise money and awareness for three after-school programs he’s supporting.
The first is a partnership with Doty Elementary School in Green Bay, which has a rapidly increasing number of students below the poverty line, to implement platforms to boost students’ literacy.
Barrington is also working to bring synthetic turf fields to two of the highest poverty high schools in the area, East High School and West High School. The goal is to provide low-income students and the public with safe surfaces to do year-round sports and community activities.
Finally, he is working to bring awareness to the need for prolonged and customized transportation for students and families in Green Bay. The area frequently has extreme weather for extended periods, and public transportation is not readily available. Not everyone has access to private transportation, and Barrington hopes to ensure that a lack of transportation never prevents youth from attending after-school educational opportunities.
Barrington is also involved with a variety of established community organizations including the Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters and PALS chapters, and he is a frequent participant in the NFL's Play 60 program.
“It's important to remember that we all share the responsibility of giving back and specifically making contributions of our time to the community we belong to,” Barrington told the NFLPA. “It is because of individuals who sacrificed their time to help me that I am here today. I want to be able to do the same as the people who believed in me. Most importantly, I hope to encourage others that if each one of us do something small, we together can make a large impact in Green Bay and Wisconsin in each community.”
At the Packers’ luncheon, Green Bay Head Coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that winning his team’s service award was no easy task.
"I just want to say how proud we all are of our players and the way they give back to the community -- how they accept the responsibility of giving back to others," he said. "Congratulations, Sam. That's a tough award to win on this football team. Great job."
Visit the NFLPA Community MVP page for more information: https://www.nflpa.com/campaign/community-mvp