Jacksonville native Rashean Mathis is proud of his hometown, and proud to have been part of an all-day project to refurbish an area football field. This past week Mathis traded in his football gloves for a pair of workman's gloves and a hammer when he joined volunteers from Home Depot, KaBoom! and members of the local community to completely refurbish the football field for the Dye Clay Family YMCA in Orange Park.
"I think this is great," Mathis said. "The video games and TVs are keeping kids inside these days and anytime a kid can get out and play on the playing field I think it's necessary because a lot is lost with all of the technology.
"I grew up playing baseball and I had a field and some grass to run around and play, so anytime that I can help kids younger than myself ,to have an area where they can run around and play, it's a pleasure to do so," he added.
The field refurbishment is part of The Home Depot/ NFL Neighborhood MVP program that recognizes and celebrates NFL players for their commitment to giving back to their local communities. Mathis was one of 17 players selected league-wide for his work in founding the Hall of Heroes Foundation, which celebrates the successes of community leaders in and around the Jacksonville area.
In order to finish the project in one day, a lot of hard work and sweat was required on the part of the many volunteers. Some 78,000 square feet of sod was laid in addition to the construction of six picnic tables, six benches and one shaded gazebo. Several landscaping projects were completed on the property as well.
"I laid some sod, hammered a couple of nails...my day is not over yet," said Mathis.
The hope of this refurbishment is to impact the lives of Jacksonville youth that attend the Dye Clay Family YMCA, and to provide a safe place for summer camps and football league practice.
According to Mathis, giving back to the community that gave to him is what it's all about. It meant a lot to him to be in the position to be a part of, and leave a small imprint on something that has potential in changing so many lives for the better.
"You can never do too much because there is something or someone always out there needy for something," Mathis explained.