Bringing in the Relief

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Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl knows more can always be done in the community.

By Brett Callahan

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The closest most fans get to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ballplayers is through a trip to the ballpark. Dennis Kuhl, a Newport resident and chairman of the Angels, is doing his best to change that by bringing the organization to the community. A 10-year veteran with the Angels, Dennis has most recently been challenged with the task of improving the area of civic affairs and community outreach, among his other responsibilities. He serves as a board member or president of such nonprofit ventures as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk, Susan G. Komen Orange County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Anaheim, the Newport Sports Museum, the Angel Stadium Little League Challenger Classic and a growing list of others.

Newport Beach Magazine spoke with Dennis about the organization’s goals and impact on Orange County.

Newport Beach Magazine: What is the Angels’ goal when it comes to philanthropy?

Dennis Kuhl: We try to learn more about as many charities and nonprofits as possible so that when we take part in these programs we have a purpose. Let’s not just give the money away or approve the grant. Let’s learn what they are trying to accomplish, get with these people and spend some time with them. For example, I didn’t know about St. Catherine’s Academy in Anaheim. I got a call one day, went over and visited, and was very impressed. You find out what they actually want to do and gather a good focus as to what can be done.

NBM: How does the team choose which charities to be involved with?

DK: We like to partner with charities that have the same youth views as we do; the after-school programs and places where kids can be safe. Those are the type of charities we’re looking at, but we also will look at some of the causes like cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, leukemia and lymphoma, and that’s due to the fact that some of our alumni and employees are involved. We want to show the employees we care about some of the same programs they do.

NBM: In what capacity are the players involved in these projects, and why is it important for them to be active in the community outreach programs?

DK: First of all, each of our players is involved in different areas. Some of them have taken on special projects. Jered Weaver has focused his attention on the Special Olympics; C.J. Wilson runs a local fundraiser for hemophilia at Anaheim’s 300 bowling center; Albert Pujols just had his celebrity golf tournament fundraiser for Down syndrome; and Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo join me every year at the Christmas party that we throw for underprivileged and foster kids at ESPN Zone. They don’t look at it as a privilege; they look at it as their responsibility to give back. They’ve been very successful in their careers, but they were kids once and some of them had to go through some hard times growing up. They say, “Now I can give back.” That’s the feeling of so many players. They love it and usually get more out of it than the kids. I think it’s just an attitude about helping the community. … We make it fun while explaining that it’s part of the fabric of what we do.

NBM: You serve as either president or board member for several charities and nonprofits. What does it mean for you?

DK: I’m a very fortunate person to work for an organization that allows me to serve on these various boards. They’ve given me the freedom to be involved, and it also allows me to a have a better understanding of the pulse of the community. You can’t do this effectively from behind a desk. You have to get out there and find out what and where the needs are.

NBM: As a resident of Newport Beach, what community events do you most like to participate in?

DK: I really just like to go to the parks and watch the kids playing baseball. The parks are great, and I have about three baseball diamonds right down the corner from me. I’ll see the kids playing and stop and watch. What I love to see is how involved the parents are. Newport does a really good job with the youth and giving them an opportunity.

NBM: You came into your role as chairman to help renew the efforts in civic affairs and community outreach. What made Dennis Kuhl the man to turn these crucial areas around?

DK: It’s not me—it’s our people. We saw that we could do so much more and we were driven by our owner (Arte Moreno). He asked me to do it, and I recruited some great people. These are people that are involved … on boards, people that wanted more than just a place to work, but a place to give back to the community.  NBM

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