Life off the Pitch with SeaWolves' Eric Duechle
Eric Duechle has become a feature of MLR. In 2018 the backrow became one of the most recognizable faces in the league with his highly combative style of play serving as the perfect example of what professional rugby in North America would look like.
A major part of the Seattle teams that went back to back, winning the League two years in a row, Eric has recently begun a nonprofit organization away from rugby. Seattle Compassion is a nonprofit charity whose goal is to move homeless into housing within a year of enrollment with the service.
"In Seattle, we're one of the worst spots in the county and America is the worst in the world, so you could say we're one of the worst spots in the world for homelessness," Eric said. "My sister was actually homeless in LA for a year back in 2014 and that was really tough for me. It just made me interested in the homelessness effort. Now, she is a co-founder with me, and we set up this nonprofit together."
Throughout the pandemic, Eric and his sister, Christina, have been helping those most in need. The pair have served over 900 hot meals and provided over 30 resource service table stations, with food, water, clothes and hygiene products.
If you don't know, I am passionate about helping the homeless find shelter. What's the point of muscle if you don't lift the world up? Our homeless nonprofit just launched a fundraiser, and we would love if you could donate, volunteer at your local hot meal kitchen, or share this message. It will mean the world to me and the 12,000 homeless in King County, Seattle. Fundraiser link is in my bio. Much love, Eric Duechle.
With homelessness being such a close topic to Eric and his sister, he says that he owes a lot to her and that she is the driving force behind the work that they do.
"She is really compassionate," Eric said. "She helps us serve food, she meets with clients and she is just a big advocate. Whenever we go speak, she has that credibility and she really believes that God is telling her to do this.
"She is a powerful person to have, because sometimes I can get caught up in my life and she will remind me how the world is, not to forget the state of the world and that has to fit into my plans. So it is really nice having her."
A veteran of the Air Force, Eric was part of the aid offered to Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland as their civil war raged on. As part of that relief he supplied refugee camps, supply water and shelter.
Serving in the Air Force for almost 10 years, Eric left service in 2018 after two combat tours. Beginning work on Seattle Compassion Services in 2019, the 34-year-old says that it was his sister's experiences in LA that inspired him to be a better person.
"It was really when my sister got sick, I didn't even know about homelessness to be honest," Eric said. "You see someone on the street, and you don't know their story. After she got sick and went through that, I saw it from a completely new eye.
"I can relate why people maybe don't care as much, because everyone's lives are really busy. But it changed my life. I became more empathetic and compassionate."
The Seattle Compassion Services recently launching a FundRazr campaign to help with their work. The nonprofit's work is already supported by a band of volunteers, volunteers who Eric will have to rely on more once MLR restarts this upcoming March.
By that time, it would have been a year since the League season was called off, and Eric has credited his work for keeping him occupied during the pandemic. Eric spoke further about the cancellation of the MLR season and how players were handling it as part of the MLR Open Discussion on Anti-Racism in Sports that him and teammate Ben Cima hosted. Now ramping up training on his own once again, Eric is thankful to have rugby back on the horizon.
"When I am only working, my body is sore, my energy is lower and I need to take a break," Eric said. "Now I have got over the coronavirus hump, because I was kind of down when the season got ended, it has helped me bring balance back to my life.
"We have just got to try and get more volunteers to serve the meals and do the stuff that I do. The idea is to start transitioning more into the world of work and try and run Seattle Compassion daily."
In recent weeks there has even been a success story. After nearly a year and a half, Eric and Christina have managed to secure government funding for a client, hopefully seeing the start of even more success.
You can keep up to date with Eric and his work by following him on Instagram or Twitter @ericduechle, Â and find out more about Seattle Compassion by visiting their website below.
Written by Joe Harvey
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Major League Rugby Stories from September 25, 2020
- Life off the Pitch with SeaWolves' Eric Duechle - Seattle Seawolves
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