A steadfast effort to embrace community activation has come to the forefront of the Coyotes' organizational mission and vision, which as a result saw the team and its staff participate in over 50 volunteer projects during the 2018-19 season, combining for nearly 2,000 hours of community service.
"One of the core pillars of our organization is to positively enrich our community," said Coyotes' President & CEO Ahron Cohen. "I am extremely proud of the work our staff and players did last season to give back to the Valley community and help enrich the lives of others. We are very excited to build upon that next season."
The Coyotes' commitment to the community this past year included service projects at organizations such as the Harvest Compassion Center, Ronald McDonald House, Ryan House, Luke Air Force Base, Free Arts of Arizona and St. Mary's Food Bank - among many others.
Overseeing the team's rejuvenated community service approach is Olivia Matos, the Executive Director of the Arizona Coyotes Foundation and Vice President of Corporate and Community Impact.
"We as an organization want to make as big of a difference to our community as possible, and the only way we can do that is with the support of our staff and our players," said Matos, who has been with the team since 2013. "Seeing the organizations that are supporting the valley has helped our staff really understand the needs of the community and why we work so hard to raise money and create community programs."
The team is already in the stages of planning another Kaboom! playground build for the coming season, which not only includes service from the front office staff, but hands-on work from the players themselves. The Arizona Coyotes Foundation raises the funds needed to complete the project.
Video: Coyotes Build Playground With Kaboom!
"We are an NHL hockey team, but at the end of the day, we are neighbors and community members," Matos added. "It's our opportunity and responsibility to make Arizona better and we take great pride in our staff living that mission."
To further benefit the expectation instilled to volunteer in the community as a Coyotes staff member, the team now awards the employee that registers the most service hours annually with a "Coyotes Volunteer of the Year" trophy, which in its inaugural July presentation was rightfully awarded to Media Relations Coordinator Jeffrey Sanders, who logged a total of 54.5 hours of community service.
"It's truly a great honor to earn this award and it's something that I am very proud of," said Sanders, a Valley native who has been with the organization since 2014. "There's nothing I enjoy doing more in my free time than going out into my community, meeting new people and making a positive impact on the lives of others. This program has helped me find a passion that I never knew existed and I'm looking forward to continue to do even more community work over the years to come."
Sanders led the way for a staff that is now held accountable by each employees' requirement to log a minimum of 15 hours of volunteer work per year, a fundamental expectation of everyone that works for the organization in any capacity.
"We are a community asset, and it's our privilege and obligation for everyone involved with our team to make an impact in our Arizona community," Cohen added of the 15-hour service obligation implemented last season.
The spirit of the word community extends far beyond hockey; that's an adage displayed on various components seen in and around the Coyotes' workplace, and a mission that the organization will continue, with resolute efforts, to put into action.