It's the season to come back and we can learn a thing or two about it from professional women's sports.
The New York Liberty announced this week that it has launched its first "Season of Charity" campaign, in which the team and nine corporate partners will donate gifts to local organizations in five boroughs this holiday season. Although this program is in its first year, some members of the women's professional basketball team have a long history of New Jersey kickbacks.
Take, for example, 29-year-old guard/forward Bethnia Laney.
Earlier this year, former Rutgers Scarlet Knight also received the prestigious Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for tri-state leadership and community service. Her work focuses on child development and youth education in New Jersey and New York.
“Community service is something my mother taught me at a young age,” Laney said in a statement. “It taught me the importance of giving back and serving the community to create positive change for those around me.
“This is what I have tried to this day,” he said. "I will continue to use my platform to express and express what the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award represents."
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According to the WNBA, the committee selected Laney to be honored by a panel of judges appointed by the league's players. As part of this award, the league donated $10,000 on behalf of Laney to the Coalition for Change, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide families with educational support, mental health services, financial education, and employment opportunities.
Laney's return portfolio is admirable. This includes participating in panel discussions such as the Derek Jeter Foundation's annual Turn 2 gala and Her Time to Play Clinic hosted by Liberty and the Brooklyn Nets. He was also a keynote speaker and guest speaker at the Coalition for Community Impact event in Atlantic City.
While there, he spoke about his youth league career and emphasized the importance of mental health. He also took part in a virtual session with young members of the Osborne Association in Brooklyn, which works directly with those affected by the criminal justice system.
Her donation also includes a distribution of food and care kits at an elementary school in Brooklyn, where she spoke to students. That same year, he volunteered to serve on the jury in Cleveland for NBA All-Star Day.
Laney's performances on the field are also inspiring. His career has been on an upward trajectory in recent years, as detailed in an ESPN profile. Cut from the team, she was named a WNBA All-Star and played for Team USA.
That same year, Scarlet Knight Kahleah Copper and her teammates made their international debut at the FIBA World Championship in Sydney.
Laney began her professional career after being selected 17th overall in the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky and working with Connecticut, Indiana and Atlanta. Laney has also played overseas for teams in Australia and Israel. In 2020, she was named the WNBA's Most Improved Female Player.
Laney's off-court efforts are just one of many examples in the WNBA and women's sports in general. Professional women's teams tend to be highly involved in their communities, a tribute to the leagues' long tradition of defense and diversity.
This holiday season, athletes like Laney can inspire us all.
"Women and Sports" is a new column on NorthJersey.com dedicated to amateur, college and professional athletes. If you have a recommendation for a North Jersey athlete, regardless of age or youth that should be in the column, please send an email to [email protected].
Melanie Anziday is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. Sign up today or activate your digital account for unlimited access to the latest news.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Liberty's Bethnia Laney leads the way off the pitch.