Once in a lifetime. That is the simplest way to describe my Tuesday afternoon.
This past Tuesday I accompanied BTF’s Senior Grant Coordinator, Meghan Chisholm, to Philadelphia, PA to help the Phillies present their 2012 Equipment Day checks to Tioga United Youth Baseball and Oak Lane Wildcats.
As our rental car picked up speed on the New Jersey Turnpike and we made our way into downtown Philly, the anticipation accelerated. We had a few moments to spare before having to be at the Phillies Administrative offices so we killed it by driving by the Liberty Bell and grabbing a quick bite to eat at historic Reading Market.
At 6:00 pm we pulled into lot P of Citizens Bank Park and put the Chevy in park. Meghan and I walked over to the offices, met our community relations contact and entered the Phillies media room, where, of course, a photo was necessary.
It was here that we got to personally meet the Equipment Day grant recipients. The excitement and gratitude they exuded was contagious. We did a run through of the pre-game ceremony: the presentation of awards to local RBI coaches of the year, the honorary award presented to Chase Utley, and the check presentation by BTF. As the lineup was completed, we made our way through the underbelly of the stadium and out onto the field. Take a breath. Take a moment. Take it all in.
I stood back and snapped pictures of the excited and nervous grant recipients and laughed to myself as they each appeared on the big screen looking over the park. As they smiled from ear to ear, accepted their awards and shook hands over the checks, the feelings were electric. It was a moment that will be difficult to forget.
It was truly special to see something go full circle. I witnessed the initial selection of the recipients, ordered the oversized checks, helped coordinate with the Phillies, and saw the acceptance of the checks that symbolized new equipment or uniforms or field equipment. Being able to see the entire cycle gave me a refreshed perspective, one that made it all mean so much more.
Elizabeth here, reporting on an important topic: volunteerism.
This past weekend, I volunteered at a Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) U.S. Regional tournament, in Newark, New Jersey. Each regional tournament determines the softball, junior baseball and senior baseball winner that will represent their region in the RBI World Series, scheduled for July 31st – August 12th in Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota.
One of RBI’s missions is to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth. The New York RBI team needed volunteers to assist with the weekend-long baseball and softball tournaments happening in metro New York. A blast email was sent out to MLB interns, explaining the tournament, specific needs and asking to fill these roles. Four MLB interns were present on Sunday. I was tasked with keeping score, stocking the dugouts with supplies, and providing directions or instructions for participants. There were countless other volunteers who assisted in their roles as athletic trainers, coaches, tournament organizers and concession stand workers.
Many BTF grant recipients have success through the use of hard working volunteers. Tasks include: field maintenance, game organization, travel arrangements and the many other details that fall upon a sports league. Recruiting and retaining volunteers is difficult, yet valuable. As stated by Katie Ringel, the Coordinator for RBI, “recruiting and maintaining a reliable volunteer corps is crucial to the success of almost any non-profit organization. Utilizing volunteers not only increases the community impact of the organization; it also allows more of the financial resources to be used for the overall mission of the organization.”
Below are a few tips, with some help from The Girl Scouts of America:
- Be specific. Tell people what you want them to do before you recruit them.
- Be honest. Confirm the time and effort the role will entail.
- Define the situation. Provide information regarding any training, supervision and support.
- Identify the positives.
- Just ask – send out a blast email, reach out to your local college or high school, ask your neighbors, post fliers or call those in your address book.
From my own experience, the act of volunteering has always been enlightening. I have gained access to new organizations, met new friends and learned countless lessons. Ms. Ringel continues, “If you are able to demonstrate how volunteers will clearly and directly contribute to the success of the organization, they are far more likely to feel a connection that will give them reason to come back.”
If you’re in need of volunteers, remember the tips above and if you want to volunteer, consider reaching out to a local youth baseball or softball team or organization!
The 83rd All-Star Game took place this past Tuesday evening at the Royals Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Although the National League beat the American League 8-0 the overall, the event was anything but a shutout. This All-Star Game is being touted as one of the most successful due to the outpouring of fan attendance and social media involvement. But a lesser known, yet equally successful branch of All-Star week, were the numerous community based events and improvements that happened.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) was thrilled, excited and proud to be a part of it. We made our way out to Kansas City late last Thursday to kick off All-Star week with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Cleveland Park, the diamond of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City (BGCKC) which serves the Kansas City branch of RBI. BTF awarded BGCKC a $50,000 grant to further renovate the fields which had been built in 2004. In a partnership that had never happened before, the MO-KAN chapter of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) evaluated the facility, pointed out the areas that needed to be renovated and dedicated volunteers and numerous hours to the renovation. The ribbon cutting event, in which our new oversized (and I mean oversized) BTF scissors were put to good use, took place during the Jr. RBI Classic, a youth baseball and softball tournament.
As Friday afternoon comes to an end and MLB returns to a post All-Star Game calm, we are proud to look back on such a successful event. Perhaps some of you feel proud of your National League for whooping the American League, or maybe some of you are reliving a great play made by your favorite player, but for us we are proud of the lasting legacy that the All Star Game will have on Kansas City. This pride, unlike the streamers at Kauffman Stadium, will take much longer than a week to dissipate.
It was yet another busy BTF weekend, including media events and Equipment Day collections!
On Friday evening, Executive Director Cathy Bradley was at Marlins Park to present Equipment Day checks to the Marlins grant recipients, City of Miami Parks & Recreation and Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation and a third to past BTF grant recipient, Miramar PAL. It was also BTF’s first trip to the new ballpark!
Also that Friday evening, at another field lighting ceremony at Jaycee Park in Owatonna, MN, BTF Senior Grant Coordinator, Meghan Chisholm, was attending a celebration. The Owatonna Huskies Bullpen was awarded a more than $45,000 BTF grant for the installation of Musco Lights on its youth baseball facility. The newly installed lights will increase player participation and availability to more than 500 players in the area. BTF’s Executive Director, Cathy Bradley stated, “field availability is often a challenge for many youth baseball and softball programs, and we believe that the lights will provide additional opportunities for play.”
It was another celebration filled with community supporters, sponsors and donors and clearly lots of smiles.
Happy 4th of July!