The NFL Philanthropist | 30 Under 30 Class of 2019
"I am so thankful that Gamma Phi Beta introduced me to Girls on the Run."
As the community relations coordinator for the New York Giants, Cassie handles 6,000 donation requests per year, coordinates game day drives for food, coats and toys and assists with getting players out into the community for volunteer opportunities. “Working in community relations for the Giants allows me to see the philanthropic side of professional football that some people don't know exists,” she shared.
Cassie also leads the My Cause, My Cleats campaign for the Giants. She helps players select a charitable group to bring awareness to by wearing customized cleats. For the last two years, the Giants have had the most players participate and Cassie plans to continue that streak. In her free time, she volunteers for Girls on the Run and Gamma Phi Beta and is creating her own nonprofit called Pocket Full of Sunshine to spread happiness and help others.
Why do you love what you do?
Working in community relations for the New York Giants allows me to see the philanthropic side of professional football that some people don't know exists. The initiatives and nonprofit foundations that the players on our roster have started are absolutely remarkable! It is so wonderful to see the hard work that these athletes put into their careers on the field, as well as off the field in the community. I love what I do because as a Giants employee, I also get to be a part of the appearance that we do in the community like visiting hospitals, homeless shelters, food kitchens and schools.
How did you discover your passion for your job?
I have always wanted to work in sports, and my time as a collegiate member of Gamma Phi Beta introduced me to the philanthropic side of things and my passion for giving back. Community relations combines football and helping the community, all wrapped up into one!
How do you define success?
I define success as living each day with fulfillment, purpose and a huge smile! When you're happy with every minute of your day, then you are successful.
What motivates you?
I love to set goals for myself. On a daily basis, I create to do lists, which in a sense are daily goals. When I have a written out idea of what I want to accomplish for the day, week or month, I truly am more motivated to pursue that goal and make it a reality!
Have you had difficulties working in a male-dominated industry?
Luckily, I have not come across a negative situation as a female in a "man's world." The NFL is a huge community of people who really make it known that it doesn't matter what you look like, if you're the one for the job, then that's that. At the Giants, we have a handful of females in executive roles which is pretty amazing, so that goes to show that gender plays no role in success for us. It's how hard you work.
How many requests are you able to grant from the community relations phone line?
I handle all of our donation requests which are submitted online, where we accept around 500 each month and help about 6,000 organizations per year. Aside from these in-kind donations that we send out to galas and events, I receive calls from fans requesting care packages, military retirement acknowledgments, wedding announcements, Eagle Scout/Girl Scout awards, birthday packages - you name it, we do it! We try to help out every single person that calls our organization and clicks the community relations line, which I answer!
What is the most heart-warming request you’ve been able to help with?
Last summer, the head coach of a special needs football program called our office to inquire about his team attending our training camp. We hosted the team at training camp that summer and have been friends with them since! The Point Pleasant Pirates Challengers football team are some of the most amazing individuals I've ever met. Their head coach, Coach Dan, is truly so passionate about teaching his special needs athletes about the game of football. I've even attended their games since they play just a few towns over from where I grew up. I love seeing the Pirates and the way their eyes light up when they interact with our players and get to say hello, have their jersey signed and meet a new friend on the roster. We hosted them again this summer at training camp and I'm sure this tradition we started will continue for many years. Meeting them and befriending the entire Pirates program has been one of the most heart-warming memories that I have made since I started with the Giants and cherish every day.
What is your favorite community service event to organize for the players?
Many of the events and initiatives that our players partake in have been long-standing traditions that we do every season, but the initiative that was brand new during my first season and that I have had the honor of leading since is My Cause, My Cleats. My Cause, My Cleats is the NFL league-wide initiative that allows the players to wear a customized cleat to support a charity of their choice during one specific game. For the past two seasons, we have had the most players participate and this year I am hoping for the same stat! On December 2, when we play the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium, our players will be wearing cleats that will represent more than 40 nonprofit organizations that they are involved in. Last year, I had the honor of wearing a customized sneaker and of course, my shoes were in support of Girls on the Run!
What does your job consist of on a daily basis during the off-season?
Contrary to popular belief, NFL employees work year-round! The off-season is a bit less packed, but we still go out in the community and do a handful of the same things that we do during the season but just with a few less players. In the off-season, many players head back to their hometowns, so we are not in the community every single week with appearances, but we do host the same events on smaller scales like Play 60 Adopt a School, NFL Draft Pick selection announcements in April, hospital visits for Valentine's Day and a few others. Donation requests are still consistent in the off-season, so we continue to help nonprofit organizations in the tri-state area and of course, we plan ahead for the season during this time!
Where did you grow up?
Howell, New Jersey.
Where do you live now?
Madison, New Jersey.
Who is your role model?
What are four things you can't live without?
My apple watch, coffee, the beach and chapstick.
What do you do in your role on game day and/or during the season?
The season is my favorite time of year! Every Tuesday, we have our players out in the community getting involved with an array of different organizations. One day we might be in New York City at a food bank serving dinner to those experiencing homelessness and the next Tuesday we'll be at an elementary school in Paramus, New Jersey, encouraging the students to Play 60 and get active for 60 minutes every day to stay healthy. Whatever the case, you can catch our players in the community once or twice a week. Follow our Twitter to see the amazing things we do! I run our department's account: @GiantsCRDept. In the office, I handle all of our donation requests, which I mentioned we accept about 6,000 per year. On game day, our department hosts Make A Wish children, whose ultimate wish is to meet Eli Manning or Odell Beckham Jr. and spend the weekend with them leading up to Sunday's game. We also are a part of the planning for initiatives like Crucial Catch and Salute to Service, which take place in October and November. In addition, I help coordinate the game day drives which include the food drive, coat drive and toy drive where we partner up with our sponsors to execute excellence on game day. Our fans are truly amazing when it comes to our drives. A really cool aspect of our coat drive is that my high school actually has been donating hundreds of coats to the Giants Coat Drive for years, even when I was a student! It's so rewarding to watch different stages of my life come full circle!
Why is being involved with Girls on the Run important to you?
Being a Girls on the Run coach has really become a big part of who I am. I am so thankful that Gamma Phi Beta introduced me to Girls on the Run by being our philanthropic partner because it is the absolute best part of my week and I tell my girls that all the time! I love seeing the superstars in my group grow each practice and really flourish into beautiful young ladies. The program is about teaching confidence, self-worth and positivity to 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds and almost every practice, I am stunned by their inner beauty and interest in discovering their best self. Girls on the Run is a huge part of who I am as a woman, friend and leader and I thank Gamma Phi Beta for that.
What do you focus on when you speak to sport management classes at Rutgers?
When I am back on campus at Rutgers and I speak to the sport management classes, I talk about the importance of hard work, drive and believing in yourself. I often am asked by students how difficult it was to get my foot in the door and earn the opportunity to work in the NFL, specifically for the New York Giants. The one thing I always say to the students is, “Nothing good happens when you stay inside your comfort zone,” so you really need to stand up to your fears and strive to reach your goals because the only person who can stop you is yourself!
Have you helped many students obtain full-time sports roles?
That is a great question! I am not quite sure, but I do receive a ton of emails from students updating me on their internships and the interviews that they land for full time roles because of the help that I given them with their resume or interview prep. It is so rewarding to feel like I'm helping other students reach their dream jobs. Having a mentor in the sports world is extremely important and I am lucky to have a few who have helped me along the way, too.
What advice do you give to women looking to pursue a career in sports?
I give the same advice to everyone, regardless of gender: just go for it! If you work hard, you will get the job you work hard for.
Is there anything else our readers should know?
Aside from being a Giants employee, a Moonball specialist and a Girls on the Run coach, I am working toward making my self-started initiative, Pocket Full of Sunshine, more well-known and hopefully in the future, an established nonprofit! Any advice and guidance is greatly appreciated! Last February, I delivered more than 63 care packages to women undergoing chemo treatment at a local hospital in Northern New Jersey. This December, I am teaming up with American Cancer Society New York City Hope Lodge to put together and deliver 120 sunshine packages to their guests. I am reaching out to organizations across the country to ask for their help in donating items to fill the bags. Things like coffee K cups and candles that make me smile and I hope would make the guests undergoing treatment smile as well!
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