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Nats reach out to hospitality workers in need

@jessicacamerato
April 24, 2020

The Nationals’ charitable arm, Nationals Philanthropies, is expanding its outreach into the Washington, D.C. community to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, the group and the Greater Washington Community Foundation launched Get Shift Done DMV. This local initiative assists adversely affected members of the hospitality industry by

The Nationals’ charitable arm, Nationals Philanthropies, is expanding its outreach into the Washington, D.C. community to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, the group and the Greater Washington Community Foundation launched Get Shift Done DMV. This local initiative assists adversely affected members of the hospitality industry by providing coordination, scheduling and payment of $15 an hour to work for local food access providers.

“Get Shift Done complements and extends the incredible coordination of food banks and providers across the region while simultaneously filling critical packaging, preparation and delivery roles with members of our local hospitality community who are out of work,” said Tal Alter, CEO of Nationals Philanthropies and Youth Baseball Academy.

Get Shift Done was formed by Dallas business and community leaders. Each week, the program provides over $250,000 in wages to more than 1,000 workers serving over one million meals in partnership with the North Texas Food Bank.

“Our goal is to replicate and build on that for the [DC-Maryland-Virginia region],” said Alter.

The first shifts are scheduled to begin on Saturday. Registration for those shift is available via the Shiftsmart app. Hospitality companies, restaurants and nonprofit organizations interested in participating can sign up for the program at getshiftdone.org/dmv.

“We know that missing even one paycheck can mean members of our community, especially the region’s lower-wage and hourly workers, struggle to pay rent, afford groceries and otherwise provide for their families,” said Tonia Wellons, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation. “Our nonprofit partners and other organizations have stepped in to fill huge gaps created by this crisis, but there is more that we can and must do as a community.”

The DMV program received founding investments from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Capital One, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and the Bainum Family Foundation.

“Food insecurity is both a systemic problem and an ever-increasing concern for families across the DMV,” said Alter. “Through our work to open Nationals Park as a cooking and packaging site for meals and delivering grants to on-the-ground partners getting food to those who need it most, it was evident that even more was needed to meet demand.”

In addition to Get Shift Done DMV, National Philanthropies is growing its programs. The NATS4GOOD Community Response Fund stands at $310,000, thanks to contributions from Nationals players, fans and the KPMG Foundation. Charitable grants have been given to DC Central Kitchen, Inova Health Foundation, Martha’s Table and Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition as they provide food access, and health and human services during the pandemic.

The Nationals Youth Baseball Academy is operating as a food access point while remaining closed until it is safe to reopen. As part of the Major League Baseball-wide Home Plate Project, catcher Yan Gomes, along with Big League Impact and Teammates for Kids, have made a $24,000 grant to the academy’s food access program.

“Grab and Go” children’s dinners, prepared at Nationals Park by World Central Kitchen, are available from 2-6 p.m. ET each weekday. Prepackaged bags of discounted produce items are available at the academy’s farmer’s market from 3-6 p.m. ET every Wednesday.

“We are contributing 100 percent of all donations that we receive to this fund back out to community-based organizations in the DC area,” Alter said. “Our goal here is to effectively steward and amplify the giving that our fans are able to do and also to be a trusted partner that they can rely on to vet the best use of their funds in supporting local work.”

Like Gomes, Nationals players have been active in the community. Nats’ 15-year veteran Ryan Zimmerman and his wife, Heather, launched the Pros for Heroes COVID-19 Relief Fund. The program, which provides health care professionals with personal protective equipment (PPE) and healthy meals, has raised over $340,000 of its $500,000 goal. Pitcher Max Scherzer teamed up with Humane Rescue Alliance to promote emergency preparedness for pets with the #PlanforPets campaign.

“We couldn’t be any more proud of them if we tried,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on a conference call Friday. “They’ve been great under trying circumstances. Everyone’s trying to take the positive road and make the best of this terrible situation.”

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.