Davin Joseph knows all too well the importance of literacy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' two-time Pro Bowl guard and reigning Man of the Year needs reading comprehension to understand the large spiral-bound playbook he uses to complete his job every day.
On Wednesday, Joseph imparted the lesson of literacy to students at Just Elementary School in Tampa, kicking off the 2013 "TEAM DAVIN" United Way campaign by promoting the importance of reading and education for underprivileged youth. Joseph, the Buccaneers' United Way spokesperson, hosted a reading rally for second and fourth-graders as part of his commitment to volunteerism and service in the Bay area.
With the support of community volunteers who signed up to join "TEAM DAVIN" during the recent NFL season, Joseph announced a school essay contest for those in attendance. He also revealed a school-wide book donation, so all 570 students at Just would receive a brand new book. The TEAM DAVIN volunteers on hand completed that latter initiative by personally delivering the books to those students who were not in attendance at the assembly. The two books, which focused on President Barack Obama and famed scientist Benjamin Banneker, told fitting stories of perseverance and success as the school wrapped up its African American History Month studies.
"This effort is the same thing that I do at home working with my son," said Joseph. "Reading different things, writing about different things and trying to pique his interest in the importance of reading and really getting him involved in as many activities that promote education as possible. I am glad to be a part of the United Way and their efforts to promote that in the Tampa Bay community."
In the fall of 2012, Joseph and the Buccaneers joined up with United Way Suncoast to build the next generation of volunteers, mentors and tutors in the Bay area. All across the NFL, teams worked closely with United Way to attract volunteers and mentors that will create long-lasting changes and help build a better future.
"I think that the partnership that we bring to the community is one of raising awareness, in every way you possibly can, letting kids know* *that reading is important and that they need to take it seriously," said Diana Baker, CEO of United Way Suncoast. "Even though they can have fun doing it, to have a celebrity like Davin Joseph come into their lives and into their school makes them pay attention."
While United Way's "TEAM NFL" was represented by one player from every NFL team, Joseph has led the way in garnering support from his community. Out of the 13,000-plus volunteers pledged to assist this national cause, over 3,600 individuals committed to volunteer through "TEAM DAVIN" - more than one-fourth of the total volunteers and over two thousand more volunteers than the second-leading player recruiter from United Way's "TEAM NFL."
"It's great that "TEAM DAVIN" has been able to take the prize among all of the teams across the country," added Baker. "We've gotten there quicker, in terms of identifying the volunteers who are committing themselves to literacy efforts in our community. We are still encouraging our sister communities across the country to continue their recruitment efforts and identification of people in their community who will step up and help kids learn to read and learn to read better. We are glad that we got there first. We are really proud of that accomplishment."
According to United Way, one in four American kids do not graduate on time, and every year, 67,000 students in the state of Florida do not graduate from high school. Bay area leaders, such as Joseph, direct United Way Suncoast's mission to create lasting community change by mobilizing the caring people of Tampa Bay.
"Today we were able to use some of our volunteers to help out with this event," said Joseph. "I am very proud of my volunteers and I really look forward to working with all of them if I have the chance."
For more information on how you can join "TEAM DAVIN," visit www.buccaneers.com/teamdavin.