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Charities Are Game’s Real Winners

As one team moves a step closer to the coveted Roll Call trophy, local charities move closer to their goals of serving the community, thanks to tonight’s game.

The funds that the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington receive from the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game have helped the charities continue and expand their services in the Washington, D.C., area.

Last year, the game raised more than $140,000 for the charities.

When the Washington Literacy Council began in 1963, it was run entirely by volunteers. As of the early 1990s, the group had just two staff members and offered one-on-one tutoring to help adults learn to read. Today, the staff includes six full-time employees, and the WLC offers group classes and family literacy programs in addition to tutoring.

“Over the years, because of [the game donations], we’ve been allowed to grow and stabilize,— said Liz Liptak, executive director of the WLC.

One of the group’s areas of growth has been family literacy. In 2007, the WLC began working with parents and children ages 3 to 8.

“We want to be able to help them help their children so the cycle of low literacy doesn’t repeat itself,— Liptak said.

Today, the program includes sessions at a number of sites, including preschools, day care centers and transitional housing buildings. A partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools allows the group to work with the after-school program at Payne Elementary on Capitol Hill.

Volunteers distribute books to children and work with them during the after-school program. Then they share information with parents about what the children have been taught.

The group also works with D.C. Public Schools at its parent resource centers in the 1st and 7th wards.

The WLC’s partnership with the game began in 1993 when Mike Erlandson, chief of staff for then-Rep. Martin Sabo (Minn.), who was the Democrats’ team manager at the time, recommended that the group be one of the recipients of the game’s ticket proceeds. Erlandson and other Hill staffers tutored at the WLC and saw the charity as a good place for the Congressional game to give back to the community.

“WLC was a charity that the funds from the game were significant to, regarding their budget, and would make a real difference in their accomplishing their mission,— Erlandson said via e-mail.

For the Boys & Girls Clubs, the baseball game proceeds go to the general operating funds of the Metropolitan Police Clubhouses. The clubhouses were partnered with the game when they were run by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and the partnership continued when they merged with the Boys & Girls Clubs in 2003, said Kerrin Torres, communications specialist for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

The locations have full programming like other Boys & Girls Clubs but also have police officers stationed in the clubs. The game proceeds help operate athletic programs, including football, baseball and basketball, at those locations.

Erlandson has moved away from Capitol Hill but recalls the important role of the game for D.C.

“The game is the single largest Hill-wide family event that takes place annually,— Erlandson said. “And, while the game is fun and very competitive, the real winner is that local charities are able to raise significant funds to advance their work in the Washington metro area. It really is the Hill giving back to Washington.—

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