The 2014 edition of Stand Together Week is fast approaching, and with volunteers around Portland signing up to work with the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC on projects around the metro area from June 16-22, one dynamic duo in particular is turning heads. Bill and Felix Kayser, a father and son pair from Oak Grove, have become a bit of a super team since the program launched in 2011.
- SIGN UP: Stand Together Week runs June 16-22
Felix, 8, and father Bill, 47, started coming to matches as early as 2009 during the USL era and have been to at least one Stand Together Week event every year since the Timbers joined MLS four seasons ago. The first event the Kaysers started volunteering alongside the Timbers was at Supa Fresh Youth Farm in Tigard. That's when Felix, then five, first met Timber Joey, who he says is now his friend after seeing him at so many events.
"I'm his buddy," laughed Felix. "When we see each other, he remembers my name."
Stand Together, as a community outreach platform, focuses on activity, education and the environment, partners with organizations like Supa Fresh Farm during Stand Together Week, and also works with nine community partners, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and Girls Inc. throughout the Timbers and Thorns FC seasons. Charitable opportunities abound, channeled through grants from the Portland Timbers Community Fund, which include field grants, organizational grants, as well as volunteer opportunities and events throughout the year. The fund gathers its resources from several locations, including the 50/50 raffle at every Timbers home match, the Timbers Awards Banquet and other events, as well as sponsored partnerships.
The largest activity the team marshals, however, is Stand Together Week: a yearly event that sparks volunteerism across the city where fans have the opportunity to volunteer alongside players and staff from the Timbers and Portland Thorns FC. Last year, volunteers donated 4,212 hours of service in the Portland area for the week-long event.
"The way that the Timbers have connected to the community through the volunteerism, it does seem very unique to Portland and I think it sort of leverages a bit of Portland culture," said Bill. "It really helps foster that community that’s also the fan base for the team."
While the Kaysers have been season ticket holders since 2009, Bill's Timbers fandom started back in 1979. His family worked for the Louisiana-Pacific lumber company, which owned the Timbers for a time in the early 80’s, and Bill was afforded the opportunity to meet some of the NASL players as a youngster. Now with a son of his own, the elder Kayser jumped at the chance to instill a sense of community activity in Felix by pairing up with MLS Timbers players.
"I’ve always kind of wanted to get involved in some local volunteer opportunity, and I really wanted to show Felix volunteerism," said Bill. "The combination of having him interact with some of the players and staff, I thought, would be a little extra motivation for him."
Felix, who has done everything from refurbishing books to planting trees as part of Stand Together Week, has taken pride in his work, much to his father's delight. While the third grader certainly appears to enjoy spending time around his favorite Timbers players, father Bill's plan to get his son involved in the community as a reward all of its own seems to have worked.
"It really feels good to help out the community while doing it because it’s really fun," said Felix. "I help the community at the same time [as I have fun]."
This year, things will be no different for the Kayser family. Both Bill and Felix are signed up for a park cleanup event, and have encouraged others to attend as well. More than anything, Bill feels the connection between community and team is much stronger due to his involvement in the Stand Together Week program.
"Seeing the team win games gives me a lot of pride," said Bill. "But seeing how those guys really are dedicated to the community and how the organization is dedicated community gives me a lot of pride in the team as well."
Stand Together Week begins on June 16 and runs through the 22nd. Numerous volunteer opportunities remain. Sign up today!