Community Player of the Week: William Hayes

Posted Oct 22, 2015

The St. Louis Rams announced defensive end William Hayes as the team’s Perficient Community Player of the Week for week seven.

The St. Louis Rams announced William Hayes as the team’s Community Player of the Week for week seven for his extensive outreach efforts and advocacy for the homeless community and the recent launch of his “Hanging with Hayes” program. Last week, the NFL Players Association also celebrated Hayes’ work and named the eight-year pro their Community MVP for week six.

Through “Hanging with Hayes,” the Rams defensive end looks to assist and uplift youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who are experiencing homelessness and other significant life challenges. The program is operated through the Big Play Hayes Foundation and in partnership with Covenant House Missouri (CHMO). At each “Hanging with Hayes” event, Hayes treats a youth group from CHMO to a movie and concessions of their choosing as a reward for their ongoing involvement with CHMO’s programming, which is designed to empower the youth to create their own path from homelessness to independence. For the kickoff event, the group saw the movie Everest.

“To be able to spend time with the kids at Covenant House and let them know how much I care about them means a lot to me, and that’s what I enjoyed the most,” Hayes said. “These are all kids who are homeless or have no safe and stable housing and are forced to take care of themselves at a very young age, but they’re still going out and doing the right things. They take full advantage of all the programs Covenant House has to offer, and that’s why I wanted to treat them to a night out for a little fun. It’s amazing how something as simple as a movie can go a long way.”

“Hanging With Hayes” is just one of the many events Hayes has participated in reaching the homeless community. During the 2014 offseason, he made the decision to focus all of his charitable efforts around the issue of homelessness. In hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of the homeless community and the challenges they face on a daily basis, Hayes and the Rams teamed up with the St. Patrick Center (SPC), one of Missouri’s largest providers of housing, employment and health opportunities for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Together, the Rams and SPC created a comprehensive year-long effort designed to provide Hayes with a true education and foundation for his ongoing efforts around homelessness. Throughout the year, Hayes took part in at least one event a month designed to expose him to the complexity of the issue. The year of service culminated in March with Hayes living homeless on the streets along with teammate Chris Long.

“The homeless community has taught me so much,” Hayes said. “What we take for granted in our everyday lives is part of their daily struggle. They wonder where they’re going to sleep, and what they’re going to eat, and that’s their reality. I’m just trying to shine a light on their situation and spread awareness so these individuals can get the services and support they need to obtain permanent housing.”

Hayes’ actions will continue to raise funds and awareness for the homeless community, as he and Long will co-host the Rams’ annual Salvation Army Tree of Lights Kick-Off luncheon, where the two will discuss their brief period being homeless and the importance of services offered by organizations such as St. Patrick Center and Covenant House.

“Changing the world isn’t always as challenging or as hard as we make it out to be,” Hayes said. “Sometimes all people want from you is your heart. I know I can’t change the entire world alone, but I can make a difference one life at a time and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish.”

About the Rams Community Player of the Week

Each week during the 2015 season, the St. Louis Rams will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis community, giving of himself off the field. Each honored Rams Community Player of the Week will receive a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Official Steak House of the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams Community Player of the Week is brought to you by the Rams Official Community Partner and Technology Solution Provider, Perficient.