D.C. United Announcer Dave Johnson and Owner Jason Levien present a special D.C. United shovel to kickoff the tree planting

When Screaming Eagles president James Lambert talks about his passion for D.C. United, it goes beyond the pitch. The D.C. United supporter group Screaming Eagles has been around since 1995, even before the first United season, and has been giving back since the beginning.

The group’s 1100+ membership can not only fill Buzzard Point’s new Audi Field with chants and drums for all the neighborhood to hear, but also fill the ground with newly planted trees. It is part of the group’s community outreach to show the Screaming Eagles care as much about the community around the stadium as the team inside it.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, a group of Screaming Eagles and Earth Conservation Corps volunteers met up with Syphax Gardens residents and ANC Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton to plant trees. The tree planting idea came about after Commissioner Hamilton and other concerned residents formed the Near Buzzard Point Resilient Action Committee (NeRAC) to give voice to those who were being drowned out during the stadium’s construction. The dust was a major cause for concern, especially for many of the most vulnerable residents. “Our elderly residents complain about burning in their eyes and lungs, and children with asthma are having more flare-ups,” said Hamilton. That aligns with the Screaming Eagles’ vision as well, as Lambert states, “We’d like our relationship with local residents to include helping to advocate for them and with them to the city government.”

Earlier this year D.C. United, DC SCORES and the Screaming Eagles announced a strategic partnership to ensure the three groups would work together to give back to the community. “We’ve always had a large focus on civic engagement and community service. We have a partnership with DC SCORES, who is also the charitable partner of the team, to support all their activities,” says Lambert.

DC SCORES’ mission is to create neighborhood teams that give kids in need the confidence and skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and in life. The Screaming Eagles partnership has included buying out a small section of seats in Audi Field to give to DC SCORES to bring their students, coaches and parents out to the matches.

The tree plantings are just one part of a larger community plan. These organizations plan to continue to work to ensure that community benefits programs linked to the Buzzard Point redevelopment are not quickly forgotten.

 BY Shannon Vaughn

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