Atleti in the Community: Verhoven, Acosta and Verhoeven “Clean the Capital” with Debra Dynes Family House

This weekend, Atlético Ottawa is hosting a group of soccer enthusiasts from Caldwell Family Centre and Debra Dynes Family House, two community focussed organizations that provide essential services for residents in Ottawa.

Atlético’s community development program is being developed with equal access at its core and the group from the two partnered community organizations will be admitted to Saturday’s match against Vancouver FC free of charge, as we endeavour to open our doors to all soccer supporters in Ottawa.

Giving access to witness professional soccer in the nation’s capital matters just as much as integrating our club, at our players, into the community. Earlier this season Atleti trio Zach Verhoven, Miguel Acosta and Noah Verhoeven – as well as a group from our front office staff – attended the “Clean the Capital” initiative in partnership with Debra Dynes Family House.


“Certain things that are taken for granted in other neighbourhoods aren’t a reality in others,” said Barbara Carroll, the Executive Director at the Family House. “Our philosophy is that we all need to contribute towards the maintenance and respect of our communal spaces to really be a community.”

Barbara is a social worker who has been part of Debra Dynes since shortly after its creation in 1995. “Some people say I’ve been here too long,” she jokes whilst beaming at the turnout for the community clean up with a park packed full of children and residents of all ages, gloves on and bin bags in hand picking up litter across the park.

“We want children to grow up with a feeling of ownership, and seeing that this is something that they should do. Keep it tidy, and be responsible for keeping it so,” Barbara explained with a group of young adults firing up the community BBQ for the hungry workers. “It’s our first proper community outing since COVID and the numbers have been great, but we expect more people to come out as the summer goes on.”

In fact, there is a community BBQ coming up in August with no formal cleaning event attached this time, although tidying up after each other is the unspoken expectation. Barbara anticipates that the turnout will double. In her time with Debra Dynes, Barbara has seen it all but no matter what obstacles they face “working with 600+ people that make me look good” isn’t something she would change for the world.

“When we’re really integrated and working in a community, even the smallest of things can provide enormous opportunities to the residents, to the kids who grow up and become leaders here,” she said. “We have so many young adults now that have volunteered, mentored and worked with us through their time in school and continue now post-secondary.”

Despite being but a small part of the overall clean-up process, having Atlético’s players come out “was really exciting and made the whole evening very special” with the uptake in tickets provided to this weekend’s match predominantly led by “local youth that is really into sport and decided they wanted to go together and see the players they met”.

“Taking the players out to meet our families, and provide them with an experience that differs so much from what they are used to was so special,” said Barbara. “It really humanized the players and we just can’t wait to come out.”

You can join Caldwell Family Centre and Debra Dynes Family House at this weekend’s clash against Vancouver FC – in support of Eastern Ontario Potcake Rescue and a young rescue dog named Bruce who is looking for his FURever home – by getting your ticket here.

For more information on, and how to contribute towards, Caldwell Family Centre click here.

For more information on, and how to contribute towards, Debra Dynes Family House click here.