Cam Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets
November 18, 2023: Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson meets with and hands out food in Brooklyn. Image via the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets and Liberty Step Up In the Community For the Holidays

For Wellfare and the Brooklyn Nets, the holidays are a perfect time to be there for the community.

Wellfare is a Brooklyn-based non-profit that has been working in the community since 2021. Under the leadership of Cole Riley, Wellfare has been able to reach communities across the five boroughs. Earlier this year, Wellfare joined Didi Richards, the New York Liberty and the Hospital for Special Surgery to hand out food in East Harlem.

On Nov. 18, Wellfare and the Brooklyn Nets held a community event at Marcy Playground in Brooklyn. The park was full as people in the community played ball while everybody was setting up. Nets forward Cam Johnson took time to greet the folks who were in the park and pick up boxes for their families.

Cam Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets
November 18, 2023: Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson hands out food box at Wellfare event in Brooklyn. Photo taken by Brian Fleurantin

Johnson watched kids shoot around and stayed with them as he handed out boxes and signed autographs.

Earlier this year, Wellfare held a giveaway at public housing in East Harlem with the Liberty. For Wellfare, supporting public housing residents is a big point of pride.

Public housing residents have experienced program cuts and have to go without much-needed services. Having organizations like Wellfare and the Nets to support residents in this way is critical now and in the future.

Making Brooklyn Home

Cam Johnson of the Nets
November 18, 2023: Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson signs autograph for fan in Brooklyn. Image via the Brooklyn Nets.

Johnson has made Brooklyn home since the Nets’ trade with the Suns in February. In March, Johnson accompanied Jacque Vaughn, Jonquel Jones and more to launch free basketball clinics at P.S. 001 in Brooklyn. We asked Johnson about the importance of not just being in the community, but being of the community as well.

“I think Brooklyn is one of the most unique markets for an NBA team and that everything we do is really ingrained in this borough… It’s a lot of communities, a lot of different people packed into a small area with a lot of culture,” Johnson said. “So being able to tap into that and grow the game maybe and in the process even grow our own brand, but just help, just help and be a positive voice, be a positive light.

“[The event] back in the spring was their initiative to put the camps in the schools. So just those free programs for kids, tons of kids in the area that look up to it. As Brooklyn, as the Nets are relatively very, very new to the community, I think it’s cool that they make such an effort to do it.”

Being an active member of the community is key to building long-lasting relationships with fans. When people see players out and about and not just at the games, they get to know them more.

Help In a Time of Need

Cam Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets
November 18, 2023: Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson hands out food in Brooklyn. Photo via the Brooklyn Nets.

It is becoming more difficult to live in New York City. A new round of budget cuts will make accessing needed services more difficult, and for individuals and families in need of food assistance, these cuts are even more deleterious when accounting for the city often being late to process applications and extra benefits ending. As a result, many New Yorkers are left to choose between paying for food or other important needs.

It is tough for New Yorkers, but Wellfare is working to be there for people in need. As Riley explains:

“Families are already operating on tight budgets. Whether it’s cash in their pocket, or those SNAP EBT cards, they’re trying to find good nutritious options at prices they can actually afford. And the budget just continues to get tighter and tighter. We’re delivering $250 worth of better-for-you nutritious packaged goods every month. That’s a huge gap filler for a family with a couple kids, throw a couple Kind bars, some liquid IV, some vital proteins in the bag makes a huge difference especially as the budget gets tighter.”

New York Liberty MVP Breanna Stewart partnered with The Campaign Against Hunger to meet with and hand out food to families in Brooklyn. After the event, Stewart spoke about the importance of giving back.

The Nets and Liberty make supporting Brooklyn a big part of their mission. The teams are active and work with organizations that better the lives of all New Yorkers. It not only is the right thing to do, but it also helps people form connections with the community and appreciate the players more. As the holidays approach, events like this help uplift the community in a time of greatest need.