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SMSB August Volunteer Spotlight: The River Rouge Panthers

By Jalisa Bannerman

SMSB Journalist

Christina Neal has been a part of the River Rouge Panthers organization for six years. Her journey to volunteerism started after spending extended hours at the field supporting her children and husband, who also volunteers as a football coach. Wanting to make the most of her presence came naturally as Christina quickly found herself fulfilling multiple roles. Christina currently volunteers as a board member, team mom, and registrar. Christina also serves as a filler to balance out any gaps of coverage. Her versatility and willingness to relentlessly serve are tremendous assets.

Helping to manage and uphold policies, properly registering children, and being one of the liaison’s within the organization, Christina devotes herself as much as possible. “Outside of practice and game day, there is still so much time behind the scenes that many don’t see.” Christina spends almost twenty hours a week with the organization while working full time and owning a small business. She has even used her small business’s resources and her own funds to gift others within the Panthers organization.

When asked about her unwavering dedication to the River Rouge Panthers organization, Christina stated, “It’s the kids. They give me so much joy. I smile when I’m out and hear them call my name. I get to watch them grow and develop and that means so much.” According to Christina, the cohesiveness of the Panthers is due to their well-built family atmosphere. She emphasized that their different communication channels allow them to talk frequently. Unfortunately, Christina lost her brother a couple of years ago, but she said the hugs, smiles, and conversations with the children gave her drive during a challenging time.

Darryl Folks, president of the River Rouge Panthers, shared, “Christina is hands down one of our best volunteers. Always available, trustworthy, and most of all, dependable. She loves each kid as her own. We want to celebrate her for all her hard work and dedication.”

The River Rouge Panthers cultivates a culture of acknowledging and celebrating hard work through their weekly newsletter. Known for some of the most amazing swag, including yard signs, they are gearing up to show their Panther pride this weekend during their homecoming.

Sound Mind Sound Body Youth League has over 1,100 volunteers who spend approximately 300 hours annually giving back to Metro Detroit youth. Sound Mind Sound Body’s after-school program is composed of a unique curriculum that combines life skills, athleticism, and academics.

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