July 6, 2011
By Martin MacMahon
Special to MLSsoccer.com
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Vancouver Whitecaps FC rookie Jeb Brovsky is making a push for a starting place on the pitch this season, but it's his off-field work with Peace Pandemic that has earned him MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month award for July.
The Colorado native founded Peace Pandemic, a non-profit organization, last year while attending the University of Notre Dame to harness "the power of soccer as a tool for social change."
"My professors put the plan down on hard paper for me," Brovsky told MLSsoccer.com. "They said, `This is your passion. If you want to follow your passion, these are the steps you need to take.' But the No. 1 thing they said was to continue being a dreamer."
Peace Pandemic organizes youth soccer camps across North America, using the funds they generate to set up rotating camps in areas across the world that are affected by conflict, human rights abuses and poverty. The goal is to get North American kids involved in helping other children who live in more difficult circumstances.
"Once kids really realize that someone is receiving from their giving, that's the positive message kids need," Brovsky said. "I think sometimes North American kids get disconnected from that idea. They say, `It's so far away, I don't know this person, maybe that's just the way it is.' Once they see that their donation or their giving of time or money is making a positive change, it goes farther than they ever imagined."
Peace Pandemic helps build the bridge between children here and abroad by having kids in the North American camps pair up with youngsters in the international camps to exchange gifts and letters.
"Kids can see that the shoes or shin guards they donated went to a real person across the world," Brovsky said. "When they get that letter or token of thanks back, it really inspires kids to help out more."
The Peace Pandemic soccer camps are about more than just getting North American kids involved in helping others. They expose children in challenged communities around the world to new ideas and ways of thinking that can be lost in the daily fight for survival.
"These camps promote values like responsibility and non-violence," Brovsky said. "Girls really focus on leadership, empowerment and getting their voice out."
The midfielder told MLSsoccer.com that a number of tragedies and deaths in his life motivated him to set up this organization.
"After those [tragedies], I really started to think about life in general and what I'm here for," Brovsky shared. "I think it's really about service to others."
Peace Pandemic's first international camps are taking place in Tanzania and Israel this summer, and the organization is in discussions about organizing future camps in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Nepal.
Brovsky, a 2011 Notre Dame graduate, played for the Fighting Irish from 2007-10 and was a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree. He appeared in 87 games, including 60 starts and tallied 42 points on 15 goals and 12 assists. Brovsky also was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-American as a senior.