This week’s spotlight is on the Chiefs Community Relations department, which is essential to the organization and the community. The Chiefs Community Relations department was organized thanks to the team founder, Lamar Hunt’s vision in 2001. Since then, it has developed a myriad of programs in order to inspire youth, connect with the community and honor those in the region.
If you ever see the Chiefs Community Caring Team (CCCT) out and about, it is in large part because of the efforts of the Community Relations department. This department is charged with creating opportunities for the Chiefs, allowing the organization as a whole to give back to the loyal Chiefs Kingdom.
“This department, through the vehicle of the CCCT, is the main resource we utilize to make an impact and support our neighbors locally and throughout the Chiefs Kingdom,” Chuck Castellano, Chiefs Community Relations Manager, explained. “Through the CCCT, this department affords us the opportunity to reach the community to help uplift those in need and support the Kansas City area.”
The Community Relations department works closely with the Chiefs players, introducing them to different opportunities in the community, inviting them to attend outreach events, such as visiting a local hospital or elementary school, participating in a food drive or Play 60 event. They also help assist the players in finding a charity or organization they would like to adopt, if they are new to Kansas City.
“Players always ask about local charities or ways to get involved when they first arrive in Kansas City and I try to help direct them,” Chuck said. “It’s really neat to know that you can have a small piece in helping these players grow and create an impact. It’s awesome to see a player three or four years down the road and realize how much they are making a difference in the community.”
The department is also focused on health and safety initiatives, such as Heads Up Football. This program educates youth, players and coaches on how to diagnose and prevent concussions, as well as demonstrating proper tackling techniques and equipment fitting.
Earlier this year, the team embraced its national rollout and even hosted a clinic for mothers enabling them to learn more about football safety, participate in drills and hear from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, among others. The Community Relations deparment played a key role in this league wide pilot program by planning and spearheading the event at the Chiefs practice facility.
Over the past fifteen years, the Chiefs have had two players receive the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, including Will Shields in ’03 and Brian Waters in ’09. Their inclusion gives the team five individuals who were recognized for this award, an honor no other NFL franchise has surpassed.
Plus, over that same time period, more than 140 players have been involved with foundations and/or charitable programming, while the Chiefs have also collaborated to donate more than $2.1 million for a dozen local youth field refurbishment and/or construction projects.
“It’s incredible to see the love and passion this city has for the Chiefs,” Chuck commented. “The best part of this job is seeing the impact the Chiefs can make in the community, while also realizing how much the community gives back to the players as they grow and seek out new opportunities to make a difference."
Not only do the players serve in the community but the Chiefs Ambassadors, a group of 40 former Chiefs players, also play a huge role in Kansas City.
“This alumni group spreads goodwill throughout the Kansas City community,” Jenny Barlow, Chiefs Community Relations Manager, noted. “The best part of my job is working with this group, because they are such an asset to the Chiefs organization. The current players are only available on Tuesdays, due to their practice schedule, but the Ambassadors really allow us to be impactful every day of the week and they are so willing to volunteer their time.”
The Chiefs Ambassadors commonly participate in events that have included visits to the VA Medical Center, volunteering at the Souper Bowl of Caring and coaching at the Heads Up Football Clinic. These alumni are passionate about giving back to the community that supported them through their time on the Chiefs roster.
Another group that volunteers much of their time is the Chiefs Women’s Organization, a group of Chiefs coaches' and players' wives, girlfriends, or significant others. This past season, the Community Relations department helped setup times for this group of women to volunteer at the Rose Brooks Center where they donated and sorted through clothes, they held a food drive for Harvesters at Arrowhead and prepared meals at Ronald McDonald House, plus participated in many other outreach events throughout the season.
“I oversee our Play 60 initiatives and try to get a lead in the fight against childhood obesity,” Jenny explained. “We have the Chiefs Sports Lab Powered by Blue KC, which is a field trip destination at Arrowhead Stadium, where students are able to learn about health and fitness. We bring 30,000 kids through the Sports Lab each year and I oversee the wonderful staff that runs that program.”
The Sports Lab was designed by the Hunt family to educate the youth of Kansas City about staying healthy, making good nutritional choices and understanding the importance of being active for 60 minutes a day. This goes hand in hand with the NFL Play 60 program held at local elementary schools.
“The best part of our jobs is when a player visits a hospital or a school and you can see the students' eyes light up and they are thrilled to meet these guys," Chuck commented. "It means so much to know that we can help make a difference in their lives."
The Chiefs organization and the entire Hunt family have made corporate citizenship and charitable giving in the community a priority for the Chiefs. These efforts help to foster a closer relationship with the Kansas City community and improve the Chiefs Kingdom.
“This department brings the Chiefs closer to the fans,” Jenny said. “We feel it is our responsibility to give back to the community, because they give so much to us. It’s awesome to see the lives the team can touch just by taking the time to talk with children at school or visit a senior center; it means a lot to the community and we are proud to be a part of it.”
To see more photos of the Chiefs in the community, click here.