On Sunday morning over 60 people gathered at Dairy Creek Park in Hillsboro to take part in the first event of the Portland Timbers' and Hands On Greater Portland's Stand Together Week. Jack Jewsbury, Will Johnson, and Diego Valeri, all looking a little worse for wear after the previous night's physical match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, were there alongside Diego Chara and Timber Joey, who looked like they had energy enough to go around.
After a brief introduction of the players by Timber Joey, which sounded at times like it would turn into a roast, the plan was laid out. They would be picking up trash, clearing out invasive species (more like this than this), and resurfacing the park's trails with wood chips.
For three hours Timbers players, staff, and fans all worked away under the glaring sun with smiles on their faces.
Following training the next day, Will Johnson confirmed his mood that morning, saying with a smile, "I left the event feeling much better than when I arrived."
Johnson elaborated on just what lifted his mood during the clean-up of Dairy Creek Park, "Obviously we had a frustrating game on Saturday night then you have to get up on a Sunday morning and do this thing that you are not thrilled about. Then you get there and you start to see that you are part of the community and you are doing good things and helping out and it makes everybody feel good and a part of something."
It is exactly that sense of community that Stand Together Week is meant to build. Both the Timbers and their supporters are very active in the community, something that we made clear during Stand Together Week 2012 when participants put in 1454 hours of community service. This year it looks to be even bigger with around 750 people expected to participate in this week's events according to the team.
The first two days of Stand Together Week may now be over, but there are still plenty of events to take part in throughout the rest of the week. One event that could use more hands is Wednesday's Ivy Pulling Party with Timber Joey and Timbers' academy coach (and legend) John Bain.
At practice on this Monday morning Will Johnson was all business while talking about the Timbers' upcoming match against Real Salt Lake, but even he can't stay too intense while talking about Stand Together Week.
"It has to be about the results on the field first and foremost, but you can also be a good competitor and a good winning club as well as a good community member, so it is about finding that balance. It is fun. Like I said, I've enjoyed meeting a lot of special people here in Portland."