TAMPA — In three years with the Bucs, offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile has been active in sending school supplies and hygiene kits to students in his parents' homeland of Haiti. Last month, he made his first trip there and saw in person the lives he was working so hard to improve.
"It was amazing," said Pamphile, 26, who started 14 games for the Bucs last season, all but one at left guard. "To see the island, to see the culture, the atmosphere, to see how much they have to struggle each day …it really touched me, and I know there's more that can be done."
Pamphile visited for four days in February with his father, Serge, and two college teammates from Purdue. He spoke at schools and delivered donated goods from fundraising efforts he had helped coordinate in Tampa. He'll be back in July to host a youth football camp for about 250 children, another way he can give back.
Pamphile had heard stories of Haiti from his parents — his mother, Marie, died in August at age 57 — but had never seen the country up close before. An earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 still has left extensive damage, as Pamphile found in touring an impoverished area called Cite Soleil, part of Haiti's capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince.
His father, who came to the United States around 1980, had been home only briefly for family funerals and drove through areas he knew growing up, surprised to see the devastation that has persisted around Port-au-Prince.
"Some of the buildings that were there when he grew up were pretty much rubble," he said. "To see how congested some parts are with people, when he described it, he described how beautiful it was when he was growing up, so it was crazy."
In addition to local education projects, Pamphile is now president of Athletes for Haiti, a charity launched from a larger organization, Athletes for Charity, which Pamphile continues to work with. He's organizing a fundraiser at Top Golf in Tampa in May to help support education and sports initiatives in Haiti.
"Once I met the kids, it felt like we were family," he said. "You want to put out a helping hand, to help in any way possible, to give the kids the best opportunities you can."
For his work locally and in Haiti, Pamphile was the Bucs' team winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, whose foundation is devoted to "supporting the well-being of abused, neglected and at-risk children."
Pamphile said being in the company of 31 other NFL team winners in Baltimore, all driven to help children's causes, inspired him to do even more with his time.
"I was overwhelmed that my teammates would vote for me," he said. "It felt great to be recognized ... to be up there with some truly great guys was amazing. There's more I can do, and it's encouraging to see guys as passionate as you are."
Pamphile, drafted in the fifth round, has matured into a key role for the Bucs after starting only four games total in his first two seasons. When starting guard J.R. Sweezy was lost for all of 2016 to a back injury, Pamphile stepped in admirably, and will now compete to keep a starting role in 2017.
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Pamphile started his career as a backup tackle, and is a possibility to play at center if he isn't starting at guard. He'll be a free agent in 2018, so another successful year as a starter could mean a significant contract next year.
"I want to keep building and improving, to get better in my technique," Pamphile said. "I don't feel like I've reached the level where the team needs me to be. Whatever the team needs me to be, I'm going to try my best to do it."
To learn more or to donate, visit athletesforcharity.com. Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.