This coach brought his team back together by teaching them compassion for strangers.

This is what a great coach looks like.

Last year during Seneca Valley High School's winter concert, Coach Kim included the students in an incredibly special moment for him and his soon to be wife.

He surprised Michelle, who also happens to be the Choral Director at Seneca Valley, by proposing to her on stage surrounded by her students. When it happened, everyone erupted into screams of excitement and joy for the couple.

All photos via Upworthy.


While the moment was significant all on its own, the fact that Coach Kim decided to propose in front of the students was the icing on the cake, because those kids might as well be family.

“It was the coolest thing ever just to have them see that, and have them be part of that experience," she recalls.

If any of this sounds like an episode of "Friday Night Lights," that's not surprising. These teachers have a similarly uncommon bond with their students.

Fred Kim is the Head Football Coach at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland, and to many of his players, he's like a second father.

"To some of them, that’s the only father figure that they have," says Michelle.

Coach Kim motivates them to not only be accountable for their actions, but to be better citizens of the world. It's imbued the team with a level of confidence and cohesiveness that's made them virtually unstoppable in recent years.

However, it wasn't always like that. Back in 2009, the football team had one of the worst seasons they'd ever had. Kim attributed their lackluster performance to a "lack of commitment," and "poor character."

“I know we have some kids who don’t have fathers, who don’t have positive role models, don’t have proper mentorship," says Kim. So he sought to change that.

They began a program designed to get the players involved in giving back to the community so that they realize the importance of supporting those around them.

It's called The ACE Project, and it was started by the Girls Basketball Coach, Ali Hashemzadeh.

“The intent is to get them out into the community, and learn the power of volunteerism and giving back without accepting anything in return,” says Hashemzadeh.

Kim also brought on an Assistant Coach named Matt McCabe, who was known for inspiring students through character-building workshops.

"For the rest of your life, you have an opportunity to let your attitude and your level of enthusiasm write a different story for yourself," Coach McCabe tells his players.

And so far, these outreach endeavors have been truly transformative for the athletes at Seneca Valley.

"It always feels good give back to the community," says Shy’Yon Frazier, one of the football players. Especially as an athlete — you have a big role, people look at you different. So you have to do things different. You have to do more.”

Beyond that, by working together to make their community a better place to live, the kids are reminded how powerful unity can be, both on a team and in life. Kim believes this idea of thinking about 'us' rather than 'me' has taken his team to the next level in terms of ability.

It's also helped them feel connected to each other in a truly extraordinary way. And that all began with Coach Kim.

"We try to tell them, 'this football team is your family,'" he says. "'This is an extension of your family.'"

Learn more about Coach Kim and Seneca Valley High School here:

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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