Mason Lends a Hand


Derrick Mason wants to be remembered in Baltimore for two things, and the first isn't necessarily his on-field exploits.

Call that point 1A.

To the veteran wideout, building a reputation in the community is just as important.

Even though he joined the Ravens only three years ago, Mason is committed to rebuilding Baltimore.

Mason recently donated $25,000 to Rebuilding Together Baltimore with the intent of funding repairs of 6-8 homes in Turners Station, the oldest African-American community in Baltimore County. And, while most football fans were glued to their TVs for the NFL Draft on Saturday, Mason was certainly off his couch.

He was one of more than 400 volunteers that descended on homes in the historic area armed with gloves, shovels and whatever else was needed to perform the much-needed renovations. Mason, who pitched in clearing weeds, planting flowers and cleaning gutters, was emboldened when members of the community joined the team.

"There were a lot of people helping - and not just volunteers," Mason said Wednesday. "There were kids running around, excited about what was going on. People were pitching in with the work, getting their hands dirty."

All in all, 40 homes were worked on (19 in Turners Station and 21 in Pen Lucy), with nearly 1,000 participants in Rebuilding Day.

Mason is one of the most active Ravens in the community, something he carried over from his eight years as a Tennessee Titan. His Derrick Mason Foundation was established to help at-risk children and families in both the Nashville and Baltimore areas.

As is the norm with Mason, he's not comfortable just writing a check. For his Holiday Helpers program every December, he literally takes children shopping for Christmas presents, providing them with gift cards. Mason was on the forefront of the Ravens' KaBoom! Playground build at Collington Square Elementary School last year.

This event was no different. He enjoyed breaking a sweat during the crisp April afternoon, and then cooling off by chatting with the homeowners throughout the day, many of whom are too elderly and find the renovation tasks too difficult by themselves.

"They were very thankful for what was going on," Mason said. "At one of the houses, I could have sat there and talked all day. You could tell how heartfelt their thanks were.

"One of the homeowners said, 'To see these people out here with smiles on their faces makes me smile.' That's what it's all about," he continued. "She loved to see people come together for one cause. That was one of the most inspiring things to me."

On a weekend where the Ravens welcomed 10 new prospects to the professional ranks, Mason's work is all the more poignant. He wants it to serve as a lesson to those coming into the league.

"Ultimately, when it's said and done, there are very few players that will be remembered just for what they did on the field," he explained. "There just aren't too many great players out there. There are a lot of very good players. You hear about a guy like Johnny Unitas, who was one of the greatest players ever. He was known for what he did on the field.

"Now, there are people like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Daniel Wilcox who play great football, but also are very active in the community. I hope to be mentioned in that same breath."

Mason now lives with his wife, Marci, and two children in Baltimore, so it was an obvious decision to be active in his home community.

"The people in this city made the transition for me and my family easier," he said. "The city embraced us and loved us. You could see how passionate they were about the rebuilding. The question is not, 'Why help?' I said, 'Why not?'"

Rebuilding Together has repaired close to 1,000 homes in Baltimore City and Baltimore County since 1989.

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