Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

SoB Game Day Committees

The Sons of Ben have established a pair of committees, Events and Game Day. They will include SoB members who won't just be volunteers, they will have active roles in both what the committees do, and how they do it.

The Events Committee will handle tailgates, road trips and special events. The Game Day Committee will include tifo and capos. Both committees will work closely with the Board to continue our ongoing Anniversary celebration and develop new ideas and possible traditions that we hope will carry us into another 10 years.

By being involved in a Committee, a member will meet regularly with the Directors for planning, be available to participate in the activities planned, have individual responsibilities assigned to them, and have a voice in how the committees get things done. Again, they would not simply be volunteering or "helping out", they would have a formal, ongoing and active role in the operations of the Sons of Ben.

We are very pleased to announce the members of each committee:

Events: Meg Torpey, Heather Reppert, David Peart, Jessica Gusler, Sid MacLeod and Frankie Sorrentino

Game Day: Trevor Machinia, Rob Migliaccio, Kenny Hanson, Erick Jusino, Paul Ethridge and Mike Petrocelli

We hope that by adding these committees, we will be expanding the sphere on influence in the group, increase opportunities for involvement, and make the Sons of Ben as great a group as it possibly can be."

SoB Election Q&A

If you have not yet been introduced to the candidates please click here.

 

The Sons of Ben Board Elections are coming up soon, and as a way of helping you get to know the candidates better, and give you some insight on their plans, we've given them a list of questions to answer.  Without any further ado, here's what they had to say:

 

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

Ashley:

Some of the strengths that I have would be organization, timeliness, and not afraid to speak my opinion but also know when to subside my thoughts when the time is right. I feel as though I am able to speak well to groups of people and get my point across when needed. I believe that I make a great leader and do well in leadership roles. Some of the additional skills and talents that I can bring to the Membership role include my ability to reach people in the Southern New Jersey area as well as my immense organization skills. I am a preschool teacher during the day which requires my attention on everybody at the same time and keeping up with everything that they need throughout the day. I am required to complete paperwork for each child and their families and have to keep everything I have organized. I enjoy sorting things into smaller areas to be able to tackle one thing at a time and make sure that all details are covered before the final project is completed. 

Lauren:

I would consider my biggest strengths to be my approachability, passion for philanthropy and organizational skills. I have an extremely outgoing personality and like to think that I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. In a position that is focused on getting involved in the community, and inspiring others to do the same, this is an extremely important skill set to have.  I have been very engaged in the community for years; it’s something that I am very passionate about. When investing time and resources into a philanthropic event, it’s vital to gain the support of others—in past experiences, I’ve found that my enthusiasm has helped to inspire others to join the cause. Finally—in order to lead a successful philanthropic effort, it takes a high level of organization. Often, you are communicating with many different individuals on a number of different initiatives. It is imperative that a Philanthropy Director have strong organizational abilities to ensure projects remain on track.

Spike:

I consider my best personal strength to be loyalty—in this case—loyalty to the club. Along with being collegiately trained in business courses, I was the former two term secretary of the Monroe County Constables Association.

There I had to often be the diplomat for the members of the association, and speak on their behalf to county and state organizations. Then I would have to relate those conversations back to the membership. Particularly I had to organize meetings and technical needs for our members with the County 911 center. 

Of course, our membership was nowhere near the size of the Sons of Ben. But certainly representing fellow members is not a new concept for me. 

Pat:

I consider myself to be a strong collaborator who is able to see a project through from start to finish.  I have no problem holding myself accountable to others, and welcome the opportunity to do just that as your next Philanthropy Director.

The Philanthropy Director role historically has been a hybrid of an event planner and project manager, requiring the director to oversee and manage philanthropic events.  Throughout my professional career I have organized successful events for my workplace and regional alumni group, including food drives and volunteer days of service, and am confident I will be able to continue this for the Sons of Ben.

Regarding additional skills and talents, I currently hold two professional certifications:  Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) issued by APICS and a Certified Professional Forecaster (CPF) designation issued by the Institute of Business Forecasting & Planning.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Babson College and my 9-5 for the past four years have been spent at RevZilla.com, an e-commerce website within the motorcycle industry

 

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

Ashley:

I have been involved with this group of people for many years and have gotten to know many of the people that are involved in the organization. I have enjoyed my time these past years and I believe that we are able to go so much further in our development. I want to see this organization grow into everything that it can be and more. I want for so many other people to see all that are all and all that we have to offer. I believe that the Sons of Ben as well as the Philadelphia Union are able to do all of the great things that we have been doing for the past ten years and I want to see it keep growing for all of the years to come. 

Lauren:

As I mentioned previously, I have been actively engaged in the community for a number of years. This past year, I had the opportunity to take the lead on two philanthropic events—a canned food drive within my department at work, and a United Way event focused on gather volunteers to help in creating a Reading Oasis (a safe environment for inner city kids to go to read). Both of these experiences allowed for me to gain more leadership experience in organizing events in a volunteer capacity and further fueled my desire to take an even more active role in community involvement. I’m confident that my successful creation and execution of these two events, coupled with my love of soccer make now the right time to apply for this opportunity with the Board of Elders. 

Spike:

I know from my involvement with many volunteer organizations over the years, burnout is common. We can’t all expect the same people to work tirelessly for us for decades. It’s highly unlikely—and somewhat selfish—to hope for otherwise. We all need to step up at some point to keep what we love going. Benjamin Franklin didn’t sit around on Facebook all week, and just show up to things expecting other people take care of it. He got involved. 

That is what I decided to do. I could see many of the hard working members needed at least a rest. So after four years of me enjoying the fruits of others’ labor, I am willing to serve a term as membership director.

Pat:

(Disclaimer:  I don’t personally buy into the “now is my time” philosophy, but I do agree with the premise of the question itself, so here is my honest take on it.)

Right now I see plenty of empty room on my plate and know I can take on the additional responsibilities and time commitment to be an effective board member.  The past several years I would not have been able to take on such a responsibility due to other commitments, but 2017 is a different chapter for me.  The most recent chapters included organizing philanthropic events both for my workplace and my regional alumni chapter, including days of service with Habitat for Humanity, Philabundance, Cradles to Crayons, and a yearly food drive for Philabundance.

My present chapter sees decreased involvement within my alumni group and a new co-worker who is overseeing all philanthropy efforts at my workplace.  With these commitments no longer on my plate, one might argue that “now is my time” to make a larger commitment to the Sons of Ben organization, and help give back to an organization that has given me plenty over the past ten years.

 

3. How will you implement past experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

Ashley:

I believe that my involvement in the organization these past years has lead to me to see all of the great things that we are able to accomplish when we put our minds to it. I have had many organizational roles in the past dating back to college up until my current role as a lead teacher in a preschool classroom. I feel as though you need somebody that is well rounded and well balanced to be able to bring our group into what it can ultimately be. I have seen how we have come from nothing as a group of supporters to now being a playoff contending team and I want that for our group of supporters as well. We have grown immensely in the past years and with my past experience of leadership roles I want to continue that growth. 

Lauren:

I have had the opportunity to get involved with a number of different events in the past. I’ve had the chance to plan corporate events for 100+ employees/clients (including the creation of travel plans, agendas, sourcing giveaways and developing a communication plan to ensure all attendees had clear expectations for the event). I developed a system to ensure that all parties involved were informed about any changes to the seminar and that we remained on schedule for each deadline. I’m confident that the organizational skills and event planning experience would assist me in this position. As a soccer coach for the Special Olympics, I know the importance of ensuring that all generations continue to grow up in an area where soccer is extremely prevalent (and exciting)

While in Dallas, Texas I lead a fundraising event that benefitted an extremely high volume kill shelter in the area. I worked in an office with close to 300 ex-auto technicians—in order to gain their buy-in on the event, I had to understand what was important through them. I created and worked closely with a committee in the office to discuss how we could have a successful fundraising event—we determined our success would depend on 3 pillars (all of which I would plan to implement if accepted as the Philanthropy Director).

1)      The office/organizations’ s buy-in to the cause: In speaking with a number of the guys on the floor, we determined that the office was extremely invested in animal rights. We talked to the floor and found out that a small group of employees were involved with a shelter in the area; we decided this was our best avenue. **I believe it’s important to the SoB’s to evaluate which causes and organizations within the community are most important to our members and assign our resources accordingly.

2)      The event had to appeal to different levels of involvement: some people didn’t want to be asked for money; some people would rather donate time than goods. We determined that we would stagger our approach to make the event as successful as possible. We created a competition between two teams to see who could donate the most supplies (the winner was supplied with breakfast); we hosted a 50/50 raffle every pay day to raise funds and give the employees an opportunity to share in some of the profit; finally, finally, we held a bake sale with proceeds benefiting the shelter. **I think we are all in agreement that the SoB events are a great time (and extremely successful). I would look for opportunities to include members who are unable to attend each event—online silent auctions to raise funds; volunteer events for those who would like to be more active in the communication; and opportunities to engage other fan organizations (a little competition never hurt).

3)      Learning and evolving with each year is crucial to the continued success of any event. The first year we held the event, we struggled to communicate to employees—we focused mainly on email communications (not a platform that the technicians were using regularly) and failed to involve key stakeholders in the delivery to the donations. The following year, we got feedback from the floor on what worked and didn’t work, and changed our approach accordingly. We hung up flyers in the break room, spoke during departmental meetings and walked around the office to stir up enthusiasm and interest. The winning team was engaged in delivering the donations (that picture is still proudly displayed in the office). While I’ve been home from Texas for over 2 years now, I’m happy to say the tradition continues. **As a group, we value the feedback from our members—I would work to connect with as many members as possible to determine what didn’t work (or could have worked better) in previous events, and implement changes to ensure that each event is better than the last.


Spike:

Again, I have experience representing members of an organization. And I am willing to do it for this large and passionate club. I’m not going to make wild promises to win votes. Honestly, I will do what the majority of you the members want. Pretty simple concept.

Pat:

I plan on drawing from my past experiences into my role as Philanthropy Directory by incorporating previous successful ideas into the Sons of Ben.  As I just mentioned in the previous answer, I have initiated multiple philanthropic activities within other social circles.  Every event has been a unique learning experience, and over the past several years I’ve taken the bad with the good and learned from each one to help ensure the success of future events.

 

4. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

Ashley:

I have known many people on the board these past couple of years and have grown to look at them and respect them in a whole new light. The amount of work the Board of Elders puts in just to make the simple things happen for our supporters is amazing; and I want to lessen that burden for them. I feel as though my ability to reach out to people in my local area and inform them about all of the great work that we are doing as a team will hopefully inspire others to help us as well. I attempt to go to every single home game and want my face out there as somebody that the fans can go to if they need something regarding the Sons of Ben. I believe that we will be able to grow into a flourishing group of people with everybody's help.

Lauren:

I am confident that my overall demeanor and approach aligns well with representing the Sons of Ben (specifically as a part of the Board of Elders). I’m a fun loving, enthusiastic soccer fan who is passionate about giving back to the community. My hope is to continue to grow and expand support of the SoB’s and the Philadelphia Union as a whole.

Spike:

I seem to work hard on gaining new Union fans and SoB members from the U.K. over the past few years. In particular among fellow Oldham Athletic supporters in England. I’ve been more than happy to promote our club and team. Especially since—we’re from Philly, and no one likes us.

Pat:

I already believe that I already represent the Sons of Ben pretty damn well.  I represented the Sons of Ben and our mission to give back to the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania when I sported a ”Facehole beard” and fundraised $600 in donations from 40 different individuals for last year’s Stache Bash.  I represented the Sons of Ben when we invaded Baltimore for last year’s MLS Draft and collectively screamed “TWO! THREE! SIX!” so loud the talking heads on ESPN had no idea what was going on.  I represented the Sons of Ben each time I helped paint Tifo, be it the “We Thank Those Who Defend Us” banner,  pulling an all-nighter leading up to the 2015 USOC Final, or a last-minute scramble during the tailgate to help fill in the background for Earnie’s Throne.  Even way back on April 10, 2010, I represented the Sons of Ben when Tannenwald interviewed a bald and blue version of me before our first ever home match at the Linc.  But most importantly,  I have and will continue to represent the Sons of Ben each and every home match when I’m standing atop 137 singing and screaming with each and every one of you in The River End.

But as for “How do I feel I can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?”  Do more.  There is always more that can be done.  Everything I’ve done up until now has been as a passive member-at-large, but I view the Board level requiring a more proactive role - almost the equivalent to having second job.  By committing more of my personal time towards the Sons of Ben, I will be better able to represent the Sons of Ben with the additional projects that will be accomplished.  This appointment is only for a two year term, and I’m looking forward doing as much as possible within that short amount of time.

 

5. What are your goals as Membership or Philanthropy Director?

Ashley:

I want to grow our membership to where it is not a question whether or not you are a Sons of Ben, it is assumed. I love this group and organization and all that it does and I want everybody to be able to experience that. I have witnessed many people at our matches become a member of our group just for the "stuff" and I want people to realize that there is more to us than just that. I don't want our membership to be a last minute decision to just have whatever is in our package that year but rather be as passionate about the things that we do as the rest of us. I want all fans of the Philadelphia Union to know all of the great things that we do as an organization and experience them with us. I have great hopes for our group and I can not wait to see where these upcoming years take us. 

Lauren:

My goals as Philanthropy Director align with SoB’s overall vision “The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market... Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding…”. As Philanthropy Director, I would look to continue seeking out opportunities for our group to get together in a social (and fun) environment while positively impacting the communities closest to us.

Spike:

Again, do the work needed for our members. Make sure we have another successful season.

Pat:

My first goal as Philanthropy Director is to not screw up what is currently working.  Between the Stache Bash, Help Kick Hunger, and the various donation drives we do throughout the season, there is already a lot of good happening thanks to the Sons of Ben and it needs to continue.  A small tweak here or there may be needed, but these staple events are the cornerstone of our Philanthropy efforts and need to remain intact.

The second goal is to better enable the membership base who wish to become more involved.  I realize not every SoB is looking to get involved with philanthropic events – and that’s fine!  We’re all here for our own individual reasons, and not everyone will want to become involved with the philanthropic aspect.  That being said, for those who do have a cause they are passionate about, I want to be the go-to resource on how the Sons of Ben might be able to get involved for causes you are passionate about.  To that point, I need to make myself available to listen and see if your causes can be incorporated into our philanthropic events.

 

Third goal is most certainly a stretch goal:  I’d love to help create a “Charity Cup” (for lack of a better name) among the MLS Supporters Groups.  Who says rivalries need to stay on the pitch?  Somehow quantify the philanthropic impact of all the supporter groups within their own local community, and hopefully turn it into an annual competition.  In additional to the charitable aspect of this, a huge secondary benefit is being able to further promote the American supporter culture as a whole to those who might not otherwise have been exposed to it.  Given the complexity of such an event, I do not see this happening in 2017, but remain hopeful that it could be implemented for 2018.

My fourth goal is to make the SoB board more transparent as a whole.  Currently the only communication from the Board to the membership is an occasional ‘Nack e-mail blast.  There are no meeting minutes published for the general membership to read up on.  To further that point, the bylaws that the board is supposed to self-govern by are nowhere to be found as well.  Making these readily available to the membership would be a simple and easy first-step to make the board more transparent and more accountable to the membership as a whole.

 

6. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

Ashley:

I were to be elected I would jump right in and get my hands dirty. We are in our off season so it is important to get as many people on board as possible. Many people have renewed their memberships for the year and are awaiting their packages so I would start organizing the delivery of the packages to these people. In order to have these packages delivered correctly and on time that would require me to start the organization of our products to ensure that we have everything that we need. I would also love to promote our memberships (packages included or not) and show everybody what we have to offer as a supporters group. I would love to get any and all ideas from our supporters about what they would like to see happen with our group in this upcoming season. 

Lauren:

My first step would be to spend as much time with the individuals currently involved in the philanthropic efforts to get a firm understanding of our current state and relationship, and all relevant past history. It is extremely important to fully understand where we are, and how we got here, before determining where we need to go.  After I have the opportunity to fully debrief on the current state, I’d like to engage as many members as possible for feedback on past events (what worked/didn’t work, what was your favorite event and why, what should we look to do going forward, are you comfortable and supportive of the organizations that the SoB are currently supporting).

Spike:

Contact the President & Vice-President of the Sons of Ben, to meet up and get in contact with the Union. Try to organize the quickest response to get our 10th Anniversary membership packages ASAP to members. 

Then make sure I have the nuclear codes and hotlines ready. Or does the Membership Director not have that clearance level from the DoD? 

Pat:

Making myself available for the general membership is paramount.  The whole point of the board is to serve the interests of the membership at large, and how can I represent the membership if I am not readily available for you?

To help achieve this, I want to implement a Start/Stop/Continue/Change survey to improve the feedback loop from membership to the entire board.  The C-suite at my workplace sends this survey bi-annually to all employees to gather anonymous unfiltered feedback.  I helped create a similar survey for my regional alumni group, and as a result the alumni board had a better idea what the membership was expecting from them.  Given the successes of this survey in my workplace and seeing the benefits of it firsthand with my alumni group, I would very much like to implement it as soon as possible within the Sons of Ben to incorporate your feedback for the upcoming 2017 season.

 

Another step I already touched on is to implement is publishing the board minutes.  I view this more as a Membership Director initiative, but it is aligned with my goal of making the board more transparent and accountable.

 

Finally, I also plan on introducing  myself to the Sons of Ben’s external partners.  We have positive relationships with many companies and organizations, and continuing to strengthen these relationships can only help our future philanthropic endeavors.  The transitional period is a prime opportunity to further the relationships we already have and create new ones as well.

 

 

7. What are some of your ideas on improving the Membership experience/Philanthropy efforts?

Ashley:

I want our soccer games to be the ones that everybody talks about. I want the Sons of Ben to be the supporters group that everybody wants to be in. That starts with getting the word out and growing our membership into everything that it can be. I want people to know who the Philadelphia Union are whether they are a fan of the game or not and that starts with us. We live in a bustling part of the country and have the ability to reach out to so many people in our area. I want people to want to be a member of our organization, not just for the stuff that they may receive but rather for what we stand for and what we represent. We already do so much good in the communities around us and that is thanks to our great members. We all love to be at games and be in the atmosphere of it all but can you imagine what it would be like if every single person was as passionate about what we do as we all are? I want that for you and I want that for all of us. I feel as though our communication between each other on the Board as well as between the supporters and the Board is an important factor on improving our membership and something that can be worked on continuously. 

Lauren:

SoB’s philanthropic efforts since the inception of the program are extremely impressive. To ensure that we continue moving forward as a group, I would look to continue to build on the foundation that my predecessors have built.

·         I would look to capitalize on the potential for corporate donations and sponsorships within my organization (a subsidiary of Holman Automotive)

·         I would look to gather feedback from the members to determine what causes and organizations are important to use as a group.

·         I would hope to gather feedback on what challenges we’ve experienced in our philanthropic efforts in the past--in order to grow our philanthropic efforts, it’s important that we understand where our biggest opportunities lie. If we are not connecting to all members of the SoB, I propose looking into new platforms to increase involvement (increased volunteer opportunities, online silent auctions, partnering with likeminded organizations).

·         Soccer (and the support of) are at the core of the SoB’s. I would like to leverage my relationship with the Special Olympics to form a bond between local Special Olympics chapters, inner city soccer programs, and the SoBs to support the continued growth and support of soccer

Spike:

I would like to see other activities and groups many members have in common—help unite us away from the soccer pitch. Perhaps starting a Comic Division Club of SoB members for the Mummers. I think we know a thing or two about making uniform noise/chants, coordinated colors, well done tifo/artwork. 

But again, that would have to be up to the members, plus our ability to meet the requirements of getting into the Mummers.

Pat:

My previous answers have touched on how the membership experience and philanthropy efforts can be improved, but here are two additional ideas:

First, I want to explore the possibility of online charity auctions. I've seen the Sons of Ben use two main fundraising strategies at past fundraising events.  The first is selling raffle tickets for various donated prizes, and the second is a silent auction  where attendees place increasing bids on whatever prize they want to win.  If we are able to move the auctions online, suddenly the the entire Sons of Ben membership can now bid on prizes, and we are not limited to those who are able to attend an event in person. The logical argument here is the bigger the pool of bidders, the higher the winning bid, and therefore the more money we can raise for charity.

 

The second idea is to partner with the player initiatives for the Philly Union.  Part of the Sons of Ben being a supporters group for the Philadelphia Union is supporting the players’ personal initiatives.  Remember when we got behind Sheanon Williams’ Miles for MJ event and Michael Lahoud’s Schools for Salone?  Without taking away the importance of giving back to Chester, being able to provide a channel for the Sons of Ben to give back to a player's philanthropic cause is absolutely a must.  It is not my job to tell you where to put your charity dollars towards, but instead to provide you an avenue to donate towards these causes if you wish.

 

 

8. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

Ashley:

To see where the Sons of Ben has come from to where it is now is astonishing but it shouldn't stop here. We should always be striving to be better than we were last week, last month, last season. We should always try and out do what we did at the last game and make sure that we are able to make it bigger and better the next time. While looking at what other supporter groups are doing and brainstorming ideas from them, we should be making the other groups envious of us and what we are doing every week. We need to have the collectiveness that we all see in other supporters groups and strive to have that within the Sons of Ben. We should want to noise level to be loud enough that we feel it in our bodies even after we are walking back to our cars in the parking lots. We should want to be the epitome of supporters

Lauren:

The goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben as a group are clear and simple:

A.      Support the Philadelphia Union

B.      Continue to seek opportunities to partner with local organizations to give back to the community.

C.      Have an awesome time while completing A+ B

Spike:

We certainly need to continue to help the people of, Chester. They were promised so much when it was picked for the stadium deal. And while the Union built and have done their part, the rest of the deal fell through thanks to the economic collapse of 2008. So we need to do more than most other supporters groups to help our neighbors in, Chester. 

One of the things we need to do, is help to bring more business to Chester businesses. If we only ever go to the stadium and SoB lot, we are not helping. We’re just traffic. I think it would behoove the SoB—and more so, the Philadelphia Union—to help work harder toward revitalization of Chester. No one else seems to care, perhaps we should. It’s our home!

Pat:

The founding members had a clear goal with a single objective when creating the Sons of Ben:  To get a professional soccer team to Philadelphia.

Done.  Now what?

 

First and foremost, the Sons of Ben remains a supporters group.  If we could only accomplish one thing, it would be to show up to every Philadelphia Union match and support the team for 90+ minutes.  Everything else after that is a secondary goal or objective.

 

Thankfully the Sons of Ben is large enough and we can support these secondary goals including tailgates, road trips, and philanthropic efforts.  The Board of Elders may have an idea for what their own goals are (myself included), but I am more interested to hear how the membership at large would answer this question.  If the Board and the membership have different answers, then a clear misalignment exists and it needs to be rectified.  As the Philanthropy Director, my job is to spearhead the secondary goal of enabling the membership to help give back to causes we are passionate about.

 

9. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

Ashley:

We started as a few guys that came together over the love of a sport and have grown into a wonderful organization. I know that we are new in the world of supporter groups but there are plenty that have come before us to show us the way and how we can constantly improve. We have shown that we can come together when we are passionate about something and that's something that should continue into every new season. We may be seen as one of the "new guys" but that should just give us more motivation to be bigger and better than our rivals. I believe that my role as Membership Director would have a large impact on our perception with everybody. I think that my role could bring our members together and improve our perception within the supporters group culture. I strive to have the roles of communication open between everybody involved, including those in charge of other supports groups. We should always strive to be the best that we can be and than is done by having the best members, all of you!

Lauren:

I believe the current perception of the SoB’s as a whole is fairly accurate—a group of passionate soccer fanatics who enjoy a good time, an occasional cold drink, and supporting the U. In my opinion,  the Philanthropy Director supports that perception, but creates in increased focus on community involvement. If elected, I would look for opportunities to get the SoB’s some more visibility within the Chester (and surrounding area) communities to ensure that when people talk about the Sons of Ben, they talk about the fun group of soccer fans who like to give back to the community.

Spike:

No one likes us, and we don’t care!!! We’re from Philly!!!

Seriously though, I think we are having some growing pains at the 10 year anniversary—but that is healthy. We are a Democratically run club. And just like a labor union, or local civics—there will always be differences of opinion. But, we need to focus more on what unites us and makes us stronger. I have yet to find a single person on this planet I agree with 100% of the time. We need to think of the sociological nature of a club as large as ours. And better work to advance the club, team, and most importantly—community. 

I got a few friends in England to become fans of the Union. Two came from the U.K. this fall to see the team in person for the first time. I won’t name drop—but a few SoB Board of Elders, past, and then present—went out of their way to welcome them. Treating them like long lost family. That meant so much for me to see. I think that is the true spirit of the SoB’s.

Pat:

I am not going to speculate what others believe the current perception of the Sons of Ben is as a whole; any attempt to do so would result in a faulty generalization.  So let us alter the question to “How would you use your role as Philanthropy Director to impact the perception of the Sons of Ben?” instead.  Cool?  Cool.

I would like to see the Sons of Ben become more recognized within the Philadelphia community, and I would argue this should be a larger strategic goal for the board moving forward.  Those in the Philadelphia Union and MLS communities already know about us, but we are still largely unknown in the general Philadelphia community.  Adam Hermann’s write-up from last summer’s USOC match is nothing earth shattering to all of us, but how amazing is it to see an entire article focused on the Sons of Ben?  The same applies for Jonathan Tannenwald’s coverage of our collaboration with Mitchell & Ness.

 

Why not be proactive and invite local media outlets to our philanthropic events to better publicize how much the Sons of Ben are giving back to our local community?  Doing so can only help increase awareness of the Sons of Ben while simultaneously improving the perception as well.

 

 

10. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

Ashley:

We have been able to come together to bring a soccer team to our town but that doesn't eliminate the challenges that we may face in our community. We live in a world where we meet all walks of life and are forced to face our differences. One of the greatest challenges that I feel we face is rising from where we were to where we want to be. It is important to always strive to be better than we were before and we must work together to see how to overcome our challenges. Communication between the members of the Sons of Ben and the Board is one that can be a challenge to the group but always a way to overcome who we were. We must be open to all of the ideas that our members have as well as the changes that come throughout our group of Board members. I believe that change is inevitable but also positive and allows us to constantly be growing and improving to where we all want to be in the end.  

Lauren:

With any organization, I feel the greatest challenge is a feeling of complacency. As a Union support group, and a group actively engaged in the community, it’s important that we continue to challenge ourselves. “We’ve always done it that way” should not be an acceptable answer. Our success and growth depends on our ability to think outside of the box, look for new opportunities to get others engaged in or exposed to the SoB’s while staying true to our core values.

Spike: 

Complacency. People might get too comfortable and forget what the point of the club is. We have been and always will be the advocate and ambassadors of Major League Soccer in the Philadelphia market.

There would be no Union, and no stadium in Chester if not for the SoBs! We can make or break top flight American soccer in the market. The Atoms and Fury never had a group like this. The NASL past and soon more recent past never had a SoB type of club.  There is no other group like this in Philadelphia.

But we should always advocate for the best interests of our fans and team. Even if it means we have to ruffle feathers and make some omelets. Never allow visiting clubs to cause too much trouble and disrespect to us, in OUR house! This is the stadium—We the Sons Of Ben built!

Pat: 

Interesting question, and one I admit is tough to answer at the present moment in time.  I do not know what current challenges the Sons of Ben are facing at the board level, so I can only speculate in my response in saying the lack of a Tailgate Director for the upcoming season could be the biggest challenge we are currently facing.

The Tailgate Director was announced as a vacant board position, but since there are no candidates we are voting for, it appears nobody has expressed interest in this position.  I view tailgates as an important secondary goal for the Sons of Ben, and one that is important enough to warrant its own Board member...but if that position is remaining vacant, where does this leave Sons of Ben Tailgates for the upcoming season?  Or perhaps a decision has already been made to discontinue the pre-game tailgates and this perceived challenge actually does not exist?

 

Again, this is only speculation on my part since I do not presently have board level insights.  Ask me again in a month and I hope to have a more informed answer for you then.

 

2017 Membership and Philanthropy Director Nominees

SoB Vote.jpg

The Sons of Ben are happy to announce the nominees for open Board of Elder positions! We will be holding elections for Membership and Philanthropy Directors. Voting will begin after Christmas with more information to come.  

The nominees are:

Membership: Ashley Cunningham and J. Spike Rogan

Philanthropy: Lauren Murray and Pat Wolenter

As with our previous election, we will be posting a series of Questions answered by the candidates. We will take questions from the membership related to those positions to be included. Please send any questions to Tim Sosar at tim.sosar@sonsofben.com

In the meantime, we have biographies of each of the candidates for you to get to know them better....

 

 

 

Ashley:

Hi all! My name is Ashley and I have been involved with the Union and the Sons of Ben since 2010. I played soccer when I was younger and have always been interested in the soccer community. I got involved by going to a game with a friend and sitting in the River End. Instantly I was hooked! I wanted to be involved in it all and have been a season ticket holder for the past 4 years, just renewing for my 5th year. 

I am applying for the Membership Director for the eBoard. I am hoping to be able to make this year and every year a fun and exciting one for all. I love sitting in the River End and want everybody to feel the same. I want to work to reinvigorate the River End and make it all that it can be. I want to work with the membership and the rest of the eBoard to make our membership better and to create an all around exciting experience! We are the Sons of Ben and I want to work with you! 


Spike:

Hello and thank you for taking the time to consider me for, membership director. 
My name is, Spike Rogan. I have been an SoB member since 2013 (and an s.o.b. personality since 1979). I live in Tobyhanna, PA (Monroe County). A Union home game is a minimum of 2.5 hours one way drive for me. So I’m a pretty dedicated fan as Pink Cows’ Arena is half the distance for me than Chester. 

 

I work in local law enforcement in the Poconos, as an elected state constable. I have an Associate in Applied Science from Northampton Community College in Criminal Justice. As well as graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from, Waldorf College (now named Waldorf University), Forest City, IA. 
 

When not working for the courts of the Commonwealth, I work as management for track operations at Pocono Raceway on major event weekends. Also in the past I worked to bring a major event back to the Poconos with the Verizon IndyCar series in 2013. As well as being a former writer and reporter covering IndyCar racing. Plus, I was a member of a pit crew for two seasons in the ARCA series (minor leagues to NASCAR). 
 

I have a passion for: service, sports, community, charity, and sarcasm. I might not be a season ticker holder, as I can’t make every game. But this position is mostly handled away from the friendly confines of the SoB lot and Talon Energy Stadium. I’m collegiately trained in business management as part of my education. I’d be proud to serve my fellow members this season, if they choose to elect me.


Lauren:

My name is Lauren Murray; I am extremely interested in the Philanthropy Director position. I’ve always been involved in the community: while living in Dallas, Texas, I led a fundraising effort for a high kill animal shelter. Since moving back to NJ, I led a fundraiser for the South Jersey Food Bank. I’ve volunteered with Feeding 5000, worked with the United Way to create a safe environment for inner city kids to read, and volunteered at homeless shelters. I coach a Special Olympics soccer team. 

 

During the week I supervise a team of customer service representatives: my days are filled with prioritizing requests,communicating with all levels of employees, getting yelled at by clients, and diplomatically saying “no” to requests.  My job requires approachability, strong organization skills and an attention to detail (all of which are needed in order to successfully manage an organization’s philanthropic efforts).

 

I am a new soccer fan. Like many Americans, I became soccer obsessed due to the US Women’s World Cup (traveling to Canada twice). From that point forward, I was hooked. I became a member of the American Outlaws, started following the Union; I’ve been a fan ever since. While this is my first year as a SoB, I am confident that I can be a strong contributor to your philanthropic efforts and organization. 

 


Pat:

Hello SoBs!

My name is Pat Wolenter and I would be honored to be your Philanthropy Director.  My involvement with the SoB stretches back to June 2008 when I became member number 1,619, and over the past eight years a good chunk of my personal identify has been molded around our events:  road trips, viewing parties, painting tifos, attending tailgates, and (of course) dooping in the River End with you all.

Volunteerism has consistently played a large role in my life, and the most personal satisfaction I get within the Sons of Ben is participating in the charity events we collectively get behind and support.  The past several years I have organized charitable events for both my workplace and regional alumni group.  Having the opportunity to change focus and spearhead this for the Sons of Ben is a welcomed challenge, and one I enthusiastically look forward to.

I view the Philanthropy Director role having two overarching goals: 1) To continue planning and executing our cornerstone events, and 2) To further the SoB’s philanthropy involvement based on membership feedback.  To that end, I want to hear what causes YOU are passionate about, and how the Sons of Ben can get involved.  You can contact me via Facebook message or via e-mail."

 

Tim Sosar

Vice President ~ Sons of Ben

 

Ad Finem Fidelis 

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.