Fans of all ages turned out to enjoy Sean Weatherspoon's Celebrity Waiter Night to benefit the work of his foundation, SPOONful of Hope, held at Ocean Prime in Atlanta. The evening began with a cocktail hour, and players mingled with fans and signed autographs and posed for photos as attendees perused the wide variety of silent auction items available, which included everything from a whole wall of autographed Falcons jerseys to complete vacation packages.
In the midst of it all, Sean Weatherspoon talked to each fan he encountered as he would speak to a friend. The personable linebacker wanted each person who was there supporting the work of his foundation in their efforts to bring hope to an underprivileged community to understand that their support is sincerely appreciated, and his gratitude was evident.
Several of Spoon's teammates were on hand to serve as celebrity waiters. Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers represented the running backs. From the defensive line, Tyson Jackson, Corey Peters and Jonathan Massaquoi were there to show support, and safeties William Moore and Zeke Motta were there to lend a hand also, as was punter Matt Bosher. Linebackers Paul Worrilow, Nate Stupar, Prince Shembo, and injured rookie Marquis Spruill were all there to support Weatherspoon as well.
Shembo shared some thoughts with me about helping with Spoon's event and what it's like, as a rookie, to come into an organization that has such a strong focus on serving the community. It didn't take much for Spoon to convince the rookie linebacker to help with the event. "Honestly, Spoon asked me to come and help and I decided to come and help," Shembo said. "I just need to take some time and get away from things, and I thought this would be a good event to go help out with." As far as the Falcons' focus on service to others, Shembo said it has been a good experience. "Always giving back - this has been a great opportunity."
Dinner was served, and attendees had a nice selection of delicious Ocean Prime entrees from which to choose. Spoon addressed the crowd to give an overview of the work of his foundation and the ways the funds generated from the evening would help SPOONful of Hope accomplish their goals of positively impacting at-risk and underprivileged youth. "The main mission of the foundation is encompassed by the name, and the name is SPOONful of Hope. And I believe if you give a group of individuals hope, then you'll have some people who are probably going to be determined."
Spoon said that in Atlanta, the goal of the foundation is to get out into urban communities as well as the suburban communities where need exists. "What we would like to do is just encourage the youth and basically just give them a sense of hope so they can continue to fight on their journey, no matter what they want to do in life - no matter what they want to be," Weatherspoon said. "I believe that it's important...to use my platform to make a positive impact on others' lives."
Spoon also talked about his family and their influence on his perspective about giving back to the community, saying, "I think the main reason why I decided to get involved in this foundation is because of the way I was raised. I was raised to help others, and I can say that my mom and my dad, they instilled that in me at an early age."
Matt Bosher, who was the hardest-working celebrity waiter of the evening, constantly running food to tables and acting like an actual waiter, shared some thoughts with me about being a part of an organization that places such a priority on serving the community. "I think part of being a Falcon is getting out in the community and showing appreciation to all of the people who show us appreciation or root for us on Sundays," Bosher said. "This event that Sean and his girlfriend have put together for everybody is wonderful. This is the second year of it, and I think it's only getting better and better. I think it's great for all of our teammates to come out and support him and it shows how much of a family we are. We always support each other in everybody's endeavors. And from the top down - from Mr. Blank down to Coach Smith and to all the players - everybody feels a passion about getting out in the community and helping all those who, like I said before, support us so well."
I spoke to Weatherspoon as the event was winding down, and he said he was very pleased with the way the event went and is grateful to all who have supported the work of his foundation. "Tonight we had our second-annual SPOONful of Hope Celebrity Waiter Night at Ocean Prime in Buckhead, and it was a great time. A lot of my teammates came out to support me, and not only did they come out to support me, but they came out to mingle with the people, and that's what makes a difference...guys really did a good job of moving around and being around with the people, and I think that's what makes great things happen. And obviously it's for a great cause, so we're just continuing to try to bring a sense of hope to anyone in need, and it was a good time."
All of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit the work of SPOONful of Hope. Later this month, Sean Weatherspoon will host several underprivileged families for a day at the Georgia Aquarium and will also provide each family with a gift card to purchase the necessary items for a nice Thanksgiving meal. Operation Second Half is a SPOONful of Hope initiative which addresses supply and clothing needs for underprivileged children at the midway point of the school year. Tackling the Text is a program that encourages literacy development and empowers families to support literacy at home. SPOONful of Hope's Hope in a Backpack project provides children in need with Walmart gift cards to purchase school supplies, allowing those children to start the school year off strong.
If you are interested in supporting the work of Weatherspoon's foundation, volunteer opportunities are available. Visit the foundation's website to submit your request for more information. You may also make a donation in any amount to support the work of SPOONful of Hope online. SPOONful of Hope is a 501(c)(3) qualified charitable organization and donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.