The holidays are a great time to reflect and give thanks. As we spend time with our loved ones, we look back at the year that was, think about everything that’s gone right, and hope for a better tomorrow. It’s also a great time to give back as well. Things are getting tougher and avenues for help aren’t as available as they used to be. In moments like these, we need everybody to look out for their fellow person. For the folks in Brooklyn and across New York, the hometown team is looking out for them.
The New York Liberty have four pillars that guide them: Basketball, Embrace, Unity, and Pride. These pillars guide their work on the court and in the community. The team has maintained its presence in Brooklyn throughout the WNBA offseason. This is the team’s second annual Season of Giving programming have aligned with each of the four pillars:
- Ticketmaster hosted a suite night for a group of students from the Sadie Nash Leadership Project during the Brooklyn Nets game on December 2nd. Breanna Stewart surprised the group and gifted Stewie 2 shoes with Puma.
- CarMax and the NY Liberty hosted a basketball clinic with New Heights Youth at the Major R. Owens Community Center. Best Trails brought a group of girl athletes from the Bronx to attend.
- M.M.LaFleur and the NY Liberty hosted a Lunch and Learn professional development day for women at Bottomless Closet. The event featured a panel with NY Liberty CEO Keia Clarke and M.M.LaFleur CEO Sarah LaFleur. Webull also contributed by partnering with the New York Liberty to gift tote bags, notebooks, pens, portfolio folders, and compact mirrors for all attendees.
- Breanna Stewart volunteered at The Bowery Mission’s annual holiday coat drive. Snipes contributed to the event by donating 300 coats for New Yorkers in need.
- XBOX gifted a Series S console and controller to a community center in each borough including Henry Street Settlement, Variety Boys and Girls Club, Good Shepherd Services, The Bowery Mission, and United Activities Unlimited.
- Hero Cosmetics donated 300 Hero Mighty Patches and NYX Professional Makeup donated an assortment of fan favorite lip products for the Ali Forney Center which provides homeless LGBTQ+ youth a warm, safe, and supportive environment off the streets. New York Liberty staff also volunteered to help assemble holiday gift bags for the center’s residents.
- Withings donated 15 connected health monitoring products including smart scales, blood pressure monitors, and thermometers for SAGE residents - the largest non-profit organization that advocates and serves LGBTQ+ elders throughout New York City.
On Thursday morning, the team shared some highlights from the campaign
Tis the Season! We’ve successfully launched our 2nd Annual Season of Giving campaign. Through growing , embracing women, & championing unity, we aligned our corporate and community partners to provide different goods, services, & experiences. pic.twitter.com/H2EYFU1yyo— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) December 21, 2023
Allie Moogan, Social Responsibility Coordinator, explained the four pillars and how the team implements them:
“I think as a whole, it’s super important for us to align with our social responsibility pillars, which are inclusive of growing youth basketball, embracing young women, channeling social unity, justice, and then promoting pride amongst our community.
“So within those four tenets, aligned with the nonprofits that do that work literally day in and day out, and using the platform that we have as the New York Liberty to highlight provide some insight, advocate and be a resource for these organizations with these responsibilities that we feel that we have to serve our community.
“And so that’s what really look for within our community to ensure that we’re aligning authentically and we’re not just doing something randomly with a group. [We’re] really trying to make sure that we’re genuine with how we partner, and the way in which we partner and build that trust with those organizations that are so deserving.”
Even though the WNBA is in off-season, the Liberty have maintained a year round presence in New York. Being present and engaged goes a long way in forming relationships with the community and making sure you’re there for them in good times and bad.
Johnna Hayward, Head of Strategy and Partnership Marketing for the Liberty spoke about the campaign and how it works
“Season of Giving has been a really great way these last two years to continue to get corporate partners to stay engaged with the New York Liberty, provide community activations during a time where we don’t have games. So how are we thinking about other kinds of creative opportunities and ways for partners to stay in touch with with the Liberty.”
Moogan added, “It’s an opportunity for us to really stay engaged with community organizations and really interact with them in an intentional and impactful way.”
In November, Cole Riley of Wellfare discussed the importance of forming relationships with the community and discussing what they need. During a down time in the WNBA calendar, the Liberty have continued to make their presence known. At the same time, they’re also helping address some big issues in New York.
Bridging the gap
It’s been a rough year in New York City. Budget cuts have made life harder for scores of people across the five boroughs. Services and benefits that help people survive are more inaccessible than ever even as the need continues to grow the day. Housing continues to be a major barrier for large swaths of New Yorkers and programs designed to assist people are falling short, with life-altering consequences.
Philanthropy can’t take the place of public policy, but it does help to have visible organizations and teams like the Liberty chipping in and helping make our community a better place. Having the Liberty care and devote time, resources, and their platforms to giving back fosters positive relations with the community as well as bridge various gaps.
Hayward spoke about that and the ways the team connects various organizations together:
“So I think exactly to your point, that’s really where our corporate partners come into play to help fill some of those gaps. When we think about our Snipes activation, for example, at the Bowery mission. Snipes donated 300 coats, it’s a product that they already have. It’s something that they had a surplus of at the end of the year. So exactly to your question, knowing that there are budget cuts taking place, there are organizations that are really in need. How can we then reach out to our corporate partners and let them know of that need and ask for some donated items in return.
“So it’s been a really great two way street where Allie is able to have that great authentic connection with the nonprofits and getting the right groups of people into the Liberty and then I come in to meet Allie in the middle and make sure that our corporate partners are able to kind of provide the products that they need.”
We’ve seen that connection at work as the Liberty have partnered with Wellfare, Callen Lorde, and other non-profit organizations across the city. Being able to link various entities together under a common cause is great for NYC and allows for each group to expand their reach and reach more people than they would by themelves.
Liberty fans have been there for the team through thick and thin. From dealing with the lows of Westchester to the high of setting attendance records in the Finals, the fans have been with the team every step of the way. In return, the team has been there for the fans and built community with them. It’s a relationship that continues to blossom and as the team continues to make New York home, the team and players are making sure they’re one with the community.
Breanna Stewart spoke about the Season of Giving and the love she has for the fans:
“To be a part of the Liberty’s Season of Giving program was super impactful for me and Marta. The community has really shown up for us on the court, and I want to return the favor off the court,” said the league’s MVP. “The holidays are obviously about spending time with the ones that you love, but also being there for those that you don’t know, and that’s what’s important to us is continuing to give back… continuing to make sure that we’re helping others get better.
“I think between the Turkey Drive [at The Campaign Against Hunger] and the Coat Drive at The Bowery Mission, [it’s important to] continue to build relationships to be able to do these events more often so it’s not just during the holidays, but hopefully many more to come, and making sure that the focus is always on the community and those in need.”
It’s one thing to be excellent on the court. Being excellent in the community matters just as much and for the Liberty players, that connection with the fans ensures they can form relationships that stretch beyond the hardwood.
What’s in store for 2024
The new year is around the corner, and the Liberty have big things in store! On the court, the team is looking to take the last step on their journey to a championship. Off the court, they’re looking to continue building relationships with the fans and various community partners. Hayward took a big picture look at 2023 and beyond for the Liberty:
“When we think about the success of the the summer and the season, more people are talking about the New York Liberty than ever. More people know who the New York Liberty are, where we play and so that, across the board for all of our verticals, community partnerships, it’s really exciting to see people want to be engaged and excited to be engaged. And I think this offseason in particular, we’ve really felt that [feeling] more than ever of “If the New York Liberty are hosting something, people want to show up,” and they want to come out and be a part of that really special thing.
And so I’m really excited to go into 2024 with that push from the offseason because it’s been really exciting to feel over the last few weeks for sure.”
The end of the year is a perfect time to take stock of everything going on in the world. You reflect on your wins and losses and see what you can do better in the new year.
It’s also a great time to give back to the people who have supported and uplifted you on your journey. The Season of Giving is a great opportunity for the New York Liberty to build on the work they do during the regular WNBA season and reach as many people as possible. In times of great need, having a team like the Liberty here and giving back to the community is terrific and ensures that we have a sense of community in the Barclays Center and around town. As the team continues piling up wins on the court, their work off the court might wind up being the biggest most impactful win of them all.