This past Tuesday, members of the Houston Dynamo organization spent time volunteering at Buffalo Bayou Park as part of Texas Pride Disposal Greener Goals initiative. At the event, which is part of the MLS WORKS Greener Goals Week, volunteers helped pull up more than 8,500 invasive ragweed plants over nearly 1,000 feet of hillside.
Volunteers included players from MLS NEXT Pro side Houston Dynamo 2 and the Houston Dash, as well as various front office individuals.
According to Houston Dash President Jessica O’Neill, volunteering time at events such as a this is a crucial for any sports team to give back to their community.
“The city, the county does a phenomenal job making sure that there’s resources and places for people to be active, to relax, to get outside,” O’Neill said. “And to take time out of the workday and make sure that we can help clean it up and contribute is massive. It’s an opportunity for everyone to spend some time together in a different way and for us to leave our mark on the city.”
The event was part of MLS’ fifth Annual Greener Goals Week of Service. Returning in-person for the first time since 2019, League-wide efforts will continue through Earth Day weekend, raising awareness about environmental issues in the soccer community.
The event featured more than 20 players from Houston Dynamo 2, the currently undefeated MLS NEXT Pro team playing in its inaugural season. For head coach Kenny Bundy, making sure that his players take time out of their schedules to volunteer, particularly for environmental issues such as this, is a core tenant of his philosophy as a coach.
“When you have the opportunity that these guys have, and the staff has, it’s a responsibility to take care of your community,” Bundy said. “We’re very lucky and fortunate to have as many great places as we have in Houston, and I made it very clear to the boys in the beginning that there are going to be multiple things that we really want to focus on and part of that is obviously the green spaces.”
Since 2018, MLS has helped offset more than 28,000 tons of CO2 – the equivalent of 42,000 flights from San Jose to Montréal or 22,500 road trips from Vancouver to Miami, according to the League’s carbon credit partner South Pole.
In total, the Houston Dynamo Football Club had 63 volunteers contribute 189 volunteer hours overall. For Buffalo Bayou Park Volunteer Coordinator Steve Parker, this kind of contribution is invaluable to keeping the park a high quality space for all Houstonians to enjoy.
“We do really rely on volunteers to come in and help us with the tasks like today, which were very hands on,” Parker said. “We have maintenance crews, but they have to deal with the big stuff for us and it’s more difficult for them to get down to this stuff. That would take weeks to do what we’re going to be doing today, so it really is very valuable to the park and all of the guests that come in.”
While a number of the volunteers come from around the country, events such as this carry an even deeper meaning for native Houstonians such as Dynamo 2 defender Mujeeb Murana.
“I’ve pretty much lived here all my life, so Houston means so much to me,” Murana said. “Doing anything I can to help out means a lot. Having the team out here also helping out, even the guys that aren’t from here, it means a lot to me.”