social capital noun. the value of our social networks & relationships

Host Site Highlight: ADSL

Published by Mary Galia on

ADSL Staff

What is the mission of ADSL?
ADSL’s mission is to provide quality programming to youth participants with the goal of fostering self esteem, healthy lifestyles and leadership skills through athletic and academic achievement.

How does ADSL’s programming fulfill your mission?
Our work successfully addresses several pressing needs of our community’s youth:

The first is s providing low income students who are struggling in school with free, one-on-one tutoring and homework assistance. Our belief is that by staying in school until high school graduation, then moving on to college or a high skilled job will propel Dorchester residents living in poverty to academic stability and progress.

The second is combating childhood obesity, specifically among low income African-American and Latino youth. ADSL’s focus on sports, fitness, nutrition and regular physical activity encourages healthy habits and choices for our participants and their families. ADSL’s philosophy is that participation in sports is an essential component of both physical and mental health and encourages kids to avoid drugs and alcohol. In addition, it builds leadership skills, self-esteem, and the desire to achieve. ADSL aims to promote daily physical activity, proper nutrition, and safe and healthy life choices to all of its participants and their families.

Finally, with many barriers to the area’s youth to having access to outdoor sports and recreational activities, including: parents’ work schedules; lack of reliable transportation; other youth programs in the city being cost prohibitive for low-income parents; and parents not wanting their kids to play outside because of the gun and gang violence as well as the prevalence of drugs in the area. ADSL provides safe and low cost or free local after school and summer-long programs which are easily accessible to area families.

What role does social capital play in helping ADSL achieve your mission?
SCI’s mission to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals and organizations through civic engagement initiatives aligns perfectly with the efforts undertaken by All Dorchester Sports and Leadership. In 1983 community leaders came together to address the issue of creating a safe space where young people of all backgrounds could participate in athletics and begin to see each other as teammates instead of adversaries. This effort resulted in the creation of ADSL. Over the years we have come to understand that a healthy community means not only having excellent athletic and academic programs but it’s also about knowing our neighbors, creating opportunities to come together to improve the neighborhood, having a clean environment, access to decent goods and services and efficient referral systems to other organizations in times of need. SCI understands that and has been supporting these community efforts since its inception in 2002.

How is the SCI AmeriCorps Member serving at ADSL supporting your youth programs? What have they achieved so far?

As a small organization, many times, it’s “all hands on deck” so there are times when staff and volunteers are asked to step in and provide support in areas not fully within their job description. Our current member, Jamie Gomes has been somewhat sidelined in her role as marketing coordinator and volunteer recruiter since we have reverted to working remotely. Jamie has stepped up to update our social media sites and has been taking online course to understand how sites relate to each other and how they can drive interest to our virtual and in-person programs. In the past, however, we did not have the capacity to have anyone in the position to ensure that our sites were updated frequently and that led to confusion and loss of revenue because it was difficult to navigate our systems. Now, our Facebook, Instagram, website and twitter all push out the same information to our community. Starting in January, Jamie will take on an expanded role to assist the current Athletic Director as he begins to structure our spring and summer athletic programs in hopes that we will be back to at minimum a modified version of previous sports seasons while we move through this pandemic. What a gift she has been!

What ongoing challenges is ADSL facing due to COVID-19?
Despite our exponential growth in the past few years, ADSL is still considered a small non-profit that does not have a high profile with larger funders. During this grueling pandemic year, many of our revenue streams have understandably been re-allocated to other basic needs such as ensuring that our neighbors have a place to live and have food to put on the table. Those who do fund us understand the impact we have at a very grass roots level with those whose needs are the greatest. Our struggle and success has been to rise to meet these needs rapidly and provide quality of life programs such as virtual tutoring, fitness and teaching our young people how to live healthier lives by consuming food that is not only good for them, but tastes good. We will be here as the pandemic starts to ease and will be ready to welcome back our kids to our programs. What remains to be seen is what these programs will look like as we navigate the fluid nature of this virus.

Does ADSL have any current or future needs for volunteers/resources?
Before we were pulled off course with COVID -19 ADSL was on a rapid upward trajectory, offering an expanded sports program, larger summer fun and fitness program and also looking to work with the City to improve the physical plant of the building. We have occupied our space within one of the three remaining “field houses” built by the city around 1927. The Parks and Recreation Department generously allows us to run our programs here and we would like to work with the city to upgrade this building so that we can expand our services to welcome more families and create more memories of ADSL in the years to come. As we work with other organizations to breathe life back into our neighborhoods, you can be sure that we will be needing volunteers to help us run our programs as well as in-kind assistance to help ADSL quickly recover to get back to business!