Kathy Black | Executive Director of La Casa de Las Madres | San Francisco
In celebration of the Fund’s 30th Anniversary, we were so proud to produce this series of 30 stories for 30 years. These stories featured some of the exceptional individuals who have helped shape the Community Fund and Junior Giants program over the years. It was our pleasure to debut these stories and share the history of the Fund through the lens of our community. And now batting in the bottom of the 9th with two outs… we’re excited to share the story of Kathy Black.
For over 20 years Kathy Black has remained a dedicated program partner, donor and friend of the Giants Community Fund. As Executive Director of La Casa de las Madres, a domestic violence hotline and survivor support and recovery non-profit, Kathy serves as a key community leader in domestic violence prevention and has played a significant role in the Giants Community Fund’s violence prevention initiatives.
In 2002, the Giants Community Fund and Kathy created the Jerseys Off Our Giants initiative, which would eventually become an integral part of Strike Out Violence Day activities at Oracle Park. “The initiatives represented the overarching goal of reducing community and domestic violence, encouraging fan engagement, and raising awareness and funds supporting vital services,” remarks Kathy.
Before the Giants Community Fund launched Jerseys Off Our Giants as part of Strike Out Violence Day activities, Kathy and the Fund partnered to support a week-long summer day camp for children staying at La Casa de Las Madres’ confidential emergency shelter. With the Fund’s support, Kathy was able to proceed with creating a transformational experience for domestic abuse survivors and their children. Though the non-profit had been a grantee since the Fund’s inception, Kathy remembers this opportunity as “the beginning of an enduring relationship.”
“Personally and professionally, I am humbled and honored to work alongside the Giants Community Fund team,” Kathy says. “In all of our work together we are changing public perceptions about violence and its victims. I have long said, the value of our partnership is quite simply – priceless.”
Aaron Edwards | Former Junior Giants Player, Coach, and DE&I Ambassador | Stockton
Aaron Edwards, former Stockton Junior Giants player, coach and DE&I Ambassador, believes the Giants Community Fund saved him from gang violence in his neighborhood. Now, at the age of 33, Aaron beams with enthusiasm when discussing his various roles in his local Stockton community, including football coach at Ronald E. McNair High School, Mary Magdalene Community Services public servant, and Junior Giants Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ambassador.
Though Aaron stands out as a trailblazer for local community improvement, he credits the Giants Community Fund for igniting his purpose to improve the Stockton community’s health and wellbeing throughanti-violence, anti-bullying and DE&I initiatives. “Life is going be hard but that doesn’t mean you stop,” Aaron suggests. “When you have setbacks, it’s time to warrior up. And that’s why I wake up every day and do what I do. I have a purpose and since I have a purpose, I can’t stop when things get hard because people depend on me.”
When Aaron was eight years old his Junior Giants coach, Officer Vonzell Graham, gave him an ultimatum to join the Stockton league or risk going down the path to incarceration like his brother. Aaron recalls that pivotal day, where he made the conscious decision to actively denounce violence. Instead, he chose the path to create a safe, equitable and welcoming community. And during the uncertainty of COVID-19, Aaron stepped in to uplift the youth during 2020, when the Junior Giants program went virtual. Out of his own pocket, Aaron bought 100 $50 gift cards to encourage the youth to engage in contests and games. It was his way of conveying how “coming to Junior Giants is a happy, positive moment.”
Ultimately, Aaron believes he is a prime example of why the Fund has continued to be tremendously successful over the past 30 years. “I was a little kid from Stockton who grew up in the hood with a lot of pain and hardship and came out better. Going out of my way to make a small kid laugh, or helping an elderly woman, that’s all the Junior Giants,” Aaron said. “The organization helps kids see they are loved, and they are worthy. The Junior Giants gave me a chance and I’m better because of that chance.”
Bank of America, Proud Presenting Sponsor of the Junior Giants Program | San Francisco
We’re thrilled to recognize the work and continuous support of Bank of America, a long-time sponsor of the Giants Community Fund’s Junior Giants program. Now in its 17th year, Bank of America's partnership enables the Fund to continue its flagship Junior Giants program, reaching thousands of youth across California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Cheryl Cayme, Community Relations Manager at Bank of America, has had the unique opportunity to witness firsthand all the hard work that goes into the Fund while serving on the Junior Giants Committee. This recently was further punctuated by noting the vibrant students who applied for the Willie Mays Scholars program, supporting Black youth education in San Francisco.
“The individuals we’ve met through the Fund – and those whose lives are changed by its mission – are inspirational,” Cheryl expressed. “It’s incredibly affirming to connect with and be a part of the Fund’s dynamic, diverse group of staff, board members, donors, community leaders, and volunteers who genuinely care and are passionate about serving the community.”
Beyond her experience with Junior Giants affiliates, Cheryl believes in the Fund’s goal to be a powerful source of positivity for local communities. “The Fund and its Junior Giants program fill a tremendous need for our region’s children and families.”
When thinking about the devastating impact of COVID-19, Cheryl emphasized the resilience of the Fund and its ability to roll with the punches. “The Fund’s team uses its resources to adapt quickly to the community’s needs. For example, while the majority of kids and families were isolating during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund moved their usual Junior Giants league to Junior Giants at Home, a remote platform offering lessons from actual coaches and players from the San Francisco Giants.”
One of Cheryl’s favorite memories of her time working with the Fund’s team is welcoming Junior Giants players on the field at Oracle Park for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet and get an autograph from their favorite Giants players.
“The young people’s excitement about the Fund’s activities and programs is palpable, and Bank of America is honored to support our youth."
Ariana “Ari” Ruiz | Player and Ambassador of the Sanger League, Harmon and Sue Burns Scholar | Fresno, CA
Ariana Ruiz has been an active member of the Junior Giants program for nearly a decade. She started out as a player in the Sanger league in 2011 and has stayed active with the program ever since by working in different roles, including assistant coach and an AmeriCorps Ambassador.
Leadership comes naturally to Ariana, who is a Harmon and Sue Burns Scholar. Over the past year, she has served as a liaison between the Sanger league and the Giants Community Fund, where she hustled to recruit players and coaches, attended Zoom meetings, created game schedules, and distributed equipment. Ariana sees this work as her way of “giving back to a program that gave me so much as I grew up.”
She shared her motivation for remaining dedicated to the Fund by stating, “Different individuals join Junior Giants for a variety of reasons, but I stuck to the program because of how great the fit was with my values. I love being able to provide my community with an open-minded, inclusive space. My absolute favorite part has been being able to understand the needs in my community, and working with the Giants Community Fund, small businesses, and council members from my hometown to create real change in my community.”
For Ariana, it is tremendously life-affirming to have an immediate positive impact on her community. Joyfully, she expressed, “I have created an amazing network of parents and players in my community. We lift each other up and are creating an inclusive space for others to join.” She is excited to build on the current momentum of the Community Fund and expand the Fund’s impact through baseball and other educational programs.
Based on her personal experience, Ariana is hopeful the Fund will continue to encourage its community members to embrace their ethnicities and create holistic educational opportunities for more Spanish speakers.
Ron & Laurie Wotus | Giants 3rd Base Coach (Ron), Former Giants Community Fund Board Member (Laurie)
As the 2021 season reminds us that it takes many members of a team to create success, we reflect on a very pivotal couple who helped bring the Giants Community Fund to where it is today. It’s time to recognize the work of Ron and Laurie Wotus!
Ron and Laurie are longtime supporters of the Fund. From Ron’s early days of leading clinics for Junior Giants coaches to his willingness to help with everything from appearances to advice and autographs, he’s always been there for us. Laurie served as a dedicated Board Member of the Giants Community Fund from 2003-08 and has been a leader within the Giants Wives/Family group for decades.
Ron has provided a wealth of instructional tips, skills and lessons to our volunteer coaches. From on-field clinics, to videos, to written materials, Ron and his team (formerly Get Up & Go Baseball) were mentors to the thousands of volunteers who stepped up to make sure our Junior Giants had a quality experience. Ron has also participated in numerous events, such as the Play Ball Lunch and the Willie McCovey Golf Classic, to help raise critical funds for our organization.
As a Board Member, Laurie served on the Junior Giants Committee, reviewing annual plans for the program and jumping in to help with events such as Junior Giants Day and the Glove Drive. She has been an active participant in both large fundraising ventures as well as smaller personal events. .Additionally, Laurie has been involved in the annual Giants Wives Auction which collects favorite items of Giants players to auction off for the benefit of local non-profits, including the Fund.
As the longest-tenured coach for the Giants, we celebrate Ron and thank Laurie for all the energy, effort and time they have so selflessly given to the Fund!
Journē and Justice Wright | Coach, Assistant Coach, Volunteer and Player | Vacaville, CA
For Journē and Justice Wright, they’ve literally grown up in the Junior Giants Program. At the respective ages of 7 and 5, the Wright siblings were already volunteering and assisting their mother to spread the word about Junior Giants. The rest is history.
This year, at age 13, Justice joined her brother Journē in becoming a Harmon and Sue Burns Scholar, a Giants Community Fund scholarship program dedicated to supporting Junior Giants from eighth grade into post-secondary education. The Wrights expressed, “It means the world to us! We were given an opportunity of a lifetime. Not everyone can start off with a scholarship to attend college. Volunteering for this program gave us the opportunity to go to the college of our dreams and have the financial burden lessened for us.”
For the Wright siblings, the non-competitive nature of Junior Giants allows them to feel comfortable playing baseball while also enabling personal growth. They said, “Investing in youth is a promising way for the next generation to find success, as it did for us. We think that when our peers see us, they will relate to our story and believe they can accomplish their dreams too.”
This scholarship program provides the opportunity to learn core values and prepare the next generation for success. While Justice enjoys the aspect of teamwork and community, Journē’s favorite part of the Fund has been being a role model to his peers and establishing personal goals. They hope someday the organization will be able to provide even more scholarships and opportunities for youth development.
Isabelle Lemon | Former GCF Board Member, Marketing Director of the Giants flagship station, KNBR | San Francisco, CA
Isabelle Lemon has been affiliated with the Giants Community Fund since its inception in 1991. As the former marketing director of KNBR, the San Francisco Giants flagship radio station, Isabelle spearheaded the weekly Giants Community Fund updates reported on the radio. Under her leadership, the Fund’s meaningful work was broadcast to the loyal Giants fan base.
Isabelle was able to leverage the power of radio broadcasts to fundraise for events, which furthered the mission of the organization. Her efforts made an enormous impact. Today, she hopes the Fund will continue to make profound investments and support key community initiatives.
Watching the Junior Giants enjoy baseball made it easy for her to appreciate all the work that went into strengthening the programs and fundraisers for the Fund. “The eagerness of the youngsters, many playing baseball for the first time, was so satisfying.” She continued, “I am part of a family that extends beyond my own and I have been moved and encouraged by all the youngsters who have gone on to great achievements as a result of the Fund.”
For Isabelle, the players’ enthusiasm for the sport and for learning critical life lessons has stayed with her into her well-deserved retirement. She believes it is the Fund’s natural ambition to go above and beyond when it comes to quality programming. Expressing her gratitude, she said, “What a wonderful gift we have given them and what wonderful returns we have gotten from our investment in their future.”
Jon Hungerford | Junior Giants Coach | Lodi League
Jon Hungerford has been with us for six years coaching our Senior Division. Especially in a year like this one, it has been difficult to field two Senior Division teams. Even so, whether one team or two, six players or nine, Jon never lets on like these are anything other than normal conditions. He continues to work hard to teach baseball skills and conduct games no matter how many players take the field. He is skilled at adapting to every situation he encounters. Jon has also been extremely helpful in assisting with our pre-season and post-season duties. He is reliable and always willing to help out. Jon first came to us with his grandson Ethan. Although Ethan has since moved on from Junior Giants, Jon has remained a mainstay in our league. Finding reliable coaches who are able to consistently exemplify the Four Bases of Character Development while embracing the non-competitive spirit of the Junior Giants program are sometimes hard to find. Finding a coach who will stay with the program teaching kids well after his own have moved on is even more of a rare find. We are very fortunate to have Jon on our team.
The Fabi Family | Junior Giants Commissioner for Vacaville Police Activities League & League Coach | Vacaville
For Amy Fabi, the Giants Community Fund has been an important partner for the Vacaville community for over a decade. When Amy saw that the Fund offered inclusive, organized baseball and youth development programs, she started formally volunteering with the Vacaville Junior Giants league. She saw it as an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons, while enjoying non-competitive baseball.
Amy has been a valued member of the program for over a decade, serving as a Junior Giants team parent, coach and is currently serving as the league’s Commissioner. Throughout the years, both Amy and her daughter, Winona, have volunteered to help recruit local kids to join the Junior Giants program, kids who might not otherwise be able to afford to play on an organized baseball team. Winona, who is a recipient of the Harmon and Sue Burns Scholarship, is now dedicated to paying it forward as a Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassador in her hometown of Vacaville. Joyfully, Winona now has the pleasure of watching former players, like herself, fulfill their potential as an Ambassador or coach.
Amy echoed Winona’s sentiment, “My favorite aspect of working with the Fund is being part of an organization that provides free, non-competitive baseball and a team experience for all children regardless of income and ability. In the Junior Giants program, kids can interact and be present without regard for what they have or don't have like hats, gloves, bats, balls, uniforms, etc. The Fund helps to level the playing field and give opportunities that have not been available to all.”
The opportunities go well beyond access to equipment and an organized baseball league. Amy recognizes the value of educational curriculum, special events and other programs that “further demonstrate the strong commitment of the Giants to the community.” She recalls one memory in particular from 2018 when her team attended the Junior Giants Festival at Oracle Park, visited The Garden in centerfield and learned more about the importance of eating fresh, healthy food. It’s because of these life-changing opportunities that the Fabi family remains personally invested in the Vacaville Junior Giants program.
Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, Jr. | Executive Director of Alive & Free San Francisco
For Dr. Joseph E. Marshall, Jr., Executive Director of Alive & Free, formerly Omega Boys Club, the start of a partnership with the Giants Community Fund brings an empowering opportunity to make an important investment in our local youth.
With the support and leadership of Dr. Marshall, Alive & Free and the Giants Community Fund recently announced the creation of Willie Mays Scholars, a college prep and scholarship program to support Black youth living in San Francisco. Beginning in Fall 2021, five Scholars will be inducted annually and receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 as part of $70,000 worth of support through high school and college that includes hands-on mentoring and tailored wraparound support service.
“[The partnership with the Giants Community Fund will] enable me to serve more young people, to further the mission and vision of Alive & Free. The fact that a major league organization is so invested in the community and has a significant presence is meaningful for someone like myself who is a community servant. I look forward to our new collaboration, Willie Mays Scholars, which will address racial and educational inequities experienced Black youth in San Francisco.”
Beyond Willie Mays Scholars, Alive & Free was recognized as a grantee on Strike Out Violence Day at Oracle Park and was recently honored as a Community All Stars Awardee.
When asked about the future of Giants Community Fund, Dr. Marshall expressed that the Fund is a “model for philanthropy in Major League Baseball and other sports,” and hopes to see the Fund continue to develop much-needed programs like the Willie Mays Scholars.
Forever Giant Willie McCovey made sure the Junior Giants program was at the forefront of his community work as he was involved in year-round activities that assisted the Giants Community Fund.
Each year, McCovey donated his time by attending the annual Junior Giants Willie Mac Luncheon, and generously autographed a personalized bat as a keepsake for dozens of Junior Giants Willie Mac awardees. He also dedicated his name and time to the Junior Giants Stretch Drive and the Willie McCovey Golf Classic, attending the events to thank our donors and raise awareness about the need for community involvement. Over the years, his efforts brought in more than $4 million to support our programs.
McCovey not only made a profound impact on the field but he inspired people off of the field as well. Junior Giants Hall of Famer and Commissioner, Kendee Vance of Los Molinos, shares her personal tribute to the great Willie Mac:
“Willie McCovey’s support and advocacy for the Junior Giants was unparalleled, unwavering, and so inspiring. His commitment and dedication in doing all he could, when he could, for these kids and this program was one of the most selfless things I’ve ever seen,” Vance said. “He put his name behind so many efforts that mean so much to us — fundraising efforts, Community Fund events, golf tournaments, Stretch Drives, Glove Drives, and countless other places where his endorsement was unyielding.”
Tony and Mary Anne Graham | Long-time Donors | Mendocino, CA
The Grahams lead a busy life – and the Giants Community Fund feels fortunate to be part of their world. Tony, a retired lawyer, and Mary Anne, a retired teacher, are the proprietors of Patterson’s Irish Pub in Mendocino. They are active in their community’s civic and charitable activities and are avid travelers. (You should see their photos of ballparks, castles, glaciers and waterfalls!) The Grahams are Giants season ticket holders and Tony is a long-time Balldude, suiting up in a Giants uniform and taking the field several times each season to scoop up foul balls during games.
As a Balldude, Tony gets a peek at the inner workings of the Giants organization, including the Giants Community Fund. He enjoys regular discussions with the Fund’s Executive Director, Sue Petersen, about programs, fundraising plans and the future of the organization. The Grahams have become good friends of the Fund and have become major supporters, not only through annual donations, but also by including the Fund in their estate plan. In fact, Tony is an evangelist for the organization, promoting the cause and encouraging others to include the Fund in their planned giving. What an awesome teammate!
The Grahams believe that the success of the Giants Community Fund comes from consistency over time and doing little things in the right way. They look forward to helping keep the name of the Giants Community Fund out there – whether in San Francisco, Mendocino or anywhere else they may travel in the world.
Manager Gabe Kapler and the San Francisco Giants Coaching Staff | San Francisco
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and in person activities were put on hold, Gabe Kapler and the Giants coaching staff jumped in without hesitation to support the newly created Junior Giants at Home program. From inside their own homes, the Giants coaching staff demonstrated safe and effective indoor friendly exercises along with instructional tips so Junior Giants could keep their baseball skills sharp. Easy to follow videos were integrated into each of the four Junior Giants at Home seasons in 2020, ensuring youth had access to plenty of baseball resources while they stayed safe at home.
Earlier this year, Kapler joined a panel on behalf of the Community Fund to talk about Sports, Racial Justice & How Coaches Can Best Support Their Teams, a webinar our Junior Giants coaches and volunteers took part in. Kapler provided attendees an insight into the leadership role he plays saying "We need to ask ourselves, 'How do we use our platforms to make the most possible change?' That doesn't mean we don't have the responsibility of other action steps away from the field to do good work. But we do have this spotlight, we do have these cameras, we do have these reporters who do want to ask us about these instances after the game.”
The Fund has always been so appreciative of the time and expertise of our coaches, and especially our Managers, over the years. From Dusty Baker to Felipe Alou to Bruce Bochy to the team’s current leader Gabe Kapler, these individuals have set the bar high for community involvement. They have always included the Giants Community Fund and our Junior Giants program among their priorities and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Tyanne and Robert Brewer | Milpitas Junior Giants League Co-Commissioners | Milpitas
Earlier this year, the Giants Community Fund was proud to induct Tyanne and Robert Brewer into the Junior Giants Hall of Fame, but their story began nearly two decades earlier. The Brewer family’s journey with the Fund began when they signed up their seven-year-old son, Daniel, to play tee-ball in the Milpitas Junior Giants League with Robert as the team’s coach. Sixteen years later, Tyanne and Robert are still involved in the program as Co-Commissioners league. Under the Brewer’s leadership, the Milpitas league has become a model program and has expanded from 4 teams when the Brewers first joined, to 20 teams currently active today.
For the Brewer family, the Giants Community Fund goes beyond baseball, having witnessed first-hand the impact of the organization both on and off the field. Over the years, they have watched the organization teach important life skills such as teamwork, integrity, and leadership. Similarly, they have also experienced the Fund’s influence through Health Week, Education Week and Strike Out Bullying Week.
It should come as no surprise that the Brewers unequivocally praise the positive impact the program has on young children and their families: “Seeing the smiles on their faces and the confidence they gain through the philosophy of the Junior Giants program... It has been an honor year after year to watch players grow, not only in their baseball skills but also their self-esteem and confidence.”
Some of the Brewer’s favorite memories involve watching former Junior Giants players return to the program as coaches. Their hope for the future is that the Giants Community Fund continues to expand the Junior Giants program and share that positive model nationwide.
Santiago “Santi” Moreno | Player, Teen Ambassador, Coach and Harmon & Sue Burns Scholarship Award Recipient | Daly City
Santiago “Santi” Moreno has been a proud affiliate of the Giants Community Fund’s Junior Giants program for over a decade. Santi was first introduced to the organization as a Junior Giants player who eventually felt inspired to become a coach of the Daly City Junior Giants league where he promotes teamwork, integrity and determination. Santi was also a 2018 Harmon & Sue Burns Scholarship recipient.
Despite being born with cerebral palsy – a neurological condition that impacts physical movement - Santi demonstrated incredible resilience as a Junior Giants participant. Santi credits the program for allowing him to overcome several obstacles and become a better person along the way.
“I never thought I could have the confidence of trying to reach goals I never knew I could do. They gave me the confidence to become a teen ambassador and go to Japan through school.” Over the next 30 years, Santi is hopeful the program will successfully assist and motivate more young adults and help more people “get out of their comfort zone.”
One of Santi’s favorite memories with the Community Fund was throwing out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants home baseball game.
Sunny Schwartz | Board of Directors | San Francisco
Sunny Schwartz is a current member of the Giants Community Fund Board of Directors and recently held the position of Board Co-Chair from 2018-2020.
As a criminal justice reform author, speaker, and consultant, Sunny has dedicated her life to restorative programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adults and their families. This meaningful life-long passion connected Sunny with the San Francisco Giants back in 1998, when she was working as a Program Director with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to design and implement projects such as “Resolve to Stop the Violence Project” for the San Francisco County Jail.
The project caught the eye of former Giants general manager, Brian Sabean, and he reached out to invite Sunny to support the Giants “Strike Out Violence Day” initiative. Soon after, Sunny joined the Giants Community Fund Board of Directors and has fulfilled a number of other leadership roles, including Chair of the Education, Violence Prevention and Board Governance committees.
“Over the years the passion has grown even more to support the mission of the Giants Community Fund and its magnificent staff to provide free baseball to communities in need with the integration and access to literacy, anti-violence programs and healthy nutrition.”
It should come as no surprise that Sunny’s favorite aspect of the Giants Community Fund has been seeing the pride, dignity, and sheer joy of communities coming together to enjoy baseball and to make strides in stopping violence in our communities and homes.
In the next thirty years, Sunny is looking forward to expanding the Junior Giants program into communities not yet reached, and providing more pivotal resources to kids, including scholarships, partnerships, and comprehensive approaches to their community.
Dr. Brian Greenwood | Junior Giants Program Evaluation, Lead Researcher | San Luis Obispo
In 2011, Dr. Brian Greenwood launched a research partnership between the Giants Community Fund and California Polytechnic State University. As a sports-based youth development researcher, Brian was seeking an opportunity to work with cutting-edge programs that measure important real-world outcomes.
From an organizational perspective, Brian underscored the Fund’s commitment to becoming one of the most impactful sports-based youth development organizations in the world. He credits the program’s long-term sustainability to their endless pursuit of improvement – to push beyond the status quo.
When reflecting on his time with the Giants Community Fund, Brian said that many of his favorite memories were meeting some of the “finest and most committed people to their community.” Specifically, he remembers a time when collecting data surveys from a ballpark in Modesto and being approached by a single mother who desperately wanted to thank Brian, on behalf of Junior Giants, for giving her three sons the opportunity to play league baseball. He still gets emotional when thinking about that memory and recognizing the difference that the organization has made for so many families.
“[There are] countless stories that I have heard directly from parents, coaches, commissioners and ambassadors about the impact that the Junior Giants program has had on their kids and their community.”
As he looks to the future of the Giants Community Fund, Brian is optimistic that the Fund and its Junior Giants program will continue to grow, develop and create a lasting impact on its communities.
Ana Villalobos | Concord Junior Giants Commissioner | Concord, CA
Ana Villalobos has been a Commissioner for the Concord Junior Giants league for the past 8 years, where she leads committee meetings, fundraising activities, field management and local community outreach. Serving her local Concord community has always been a source of pride for Ana. Before joining the Giants Community Fund, she worked at a non-profit managing community health programs and grants for low-income families.
For Ana, there is no greater reward than serving families in her local community and promoting healthy living, education and love amongst her players and their families. She teaches her players to follow their dreams and that every single person is important, no matter where you come from.
“I cannot have imagined being a part of so many children and families’ lives that learned through the Junior Giants program that they can dream big about life and possibilities. At Junior Giants we are all equal, no matter our race, looks, financial status or language.”
Ana’s favorite memories of working with the Junior Giants include throwing out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game, speaking at the Fund’s Play Ball Lunch and most of all, seeing her former players grow into positive members of their community.
Henry Parker | 50/50 Raffle Team Member |
Henry Parker Jr. has been an all-star salesman and ambassador for the Giants Community Fund’s annual 50/50 Raffle for the past 5 years. Henry was first introduced to the Fund through a former manager after working with the Golden State Warriors and Oakland A’s organizations, and knew the Fund’s program would be a perfect fit for his interests and experience.
A longtime fan of the San Francisco Giants, Henry enjoys spending time at the ballpark and interacting with Giants fans.
“No matter what my day holds, it could have been a horrible day where nothing seems to be going right, that I find a get-away from life stresses at the ballpark … I greet people with a genuine smile, or “Hello, how are you doing,” and really mean it. I just enjoy being around people.”
A few of Henry’s favorite San Francisco Giants moments over the years have been Barry Bonds Day and Bruce Bochy’s final game as the Giants manager. Henry credits the Fund’s community impact over the past 30 years to being inclusive of everyone from all walks of life. He appreciates that kids and teens are able to learn from each other on and off the field and hone their life skills such as empathy, collaboration and respecting others who may be different from themselves.
Daryl Chin and Brittany Chin | Co-Commissioner and Junior Giants player & Ambassador | San Bruno, CA
Daryl Chin has been a member of the Giants Community Fund family for more than 15 years, beginning as a Junior Giants coach and eventually becoming Co-Commissioner of the San Bruno Junior Giants League. Over the years, Daryl has taken on a variety of responsibilities including the recruitment and retention of volunteer coaches, encouraging Junior Giant players to apply for the Harmon and Sue Burns Scholarship, and volunteering for Giants Community Fund fundraising events on behalf of the San Bruno League.
He first learned of the organization through Lorry Greenberg, San Bruno’s founding Junior Giants Commissioner, when she asked if he’d be interested in coaching a team. Although he had a background in playing recreational baseball and teaching and playing tennis, he was apprehensive about being a first-time baseball coach. Daryl credits Lorry for providing him with the encouragement he needed to take that leap and give back to his community.
The prospect of being part of a Giants Community Fund endeavor was so exciting that Daryl enrolled his youngest daughter, Brittany, in the Junior Giants program. Brittany was a standout player and even went on to later be an intern for the organization in 2019, assisting with major events like the Commissioners Camp, Opening Day and the Play Ball Lunch. Brittany and her father both received the Junior Giants Willie Mac Award in 2010, and Brittany became a Harmon and Sue Burns Scholar soon after. She also spent time as a Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassador and earned the All-Star Ambassador Award for her efforts, which included the creation of the Bobble for Grades program for the San Bruno League. Her program was such a success that it inspired the San Bruno league to keep the program intact far beyond Brittany’s time with the league.
Throughout his tenure as a coach and Co-Commissioner, Daryl has made a point of promoting diversity within his league and on his teams. He aims to manage a league that is at least halfway filled with girls and is always excited to see his players light up after getting their first hit or making a big catch. Daryl saw firsthand how the Junior Giants helped Brittany become more confident and outgoing, and hopes to inspire other young girls and women in the community to embrace the game of baseball for the same reason. He believes that the Giants Community Fund has had and will continue to have an enduring impact because the lessons imparted on the youth transcend baseball.
“The impact of the program is so monumental because it’s more than just baseball – it encompasses lifelong lessons that any player and even coach can learn from,” Daryl said.
As he looks ahead, Daryl hopes for the continued and increased participation of girls across all Junior Giants leagues. He’s been able to witness the growth and development of many strong, young women, including his daughter Brittany, who grew up to become leaders within their communities and he looks forward to seeing their impact continue to help shape the direction of the Giants Community Fund for years to come.
Emmett Reilly | Giants Community Fund AmeriCorps Ambassador, Assistant Coach, and Junior Giants Player | Ukiah, CA
Emmett Reilly has been a proud member of the Giants Community Fund Family since 2009, holding a variety of roles within the organization including a Junior Giants player, an on-the-field AmeriCorps Ambassador, an assistant Junior Giants coach, and now a virtual AmeriCorps Ambassador, where he coaches virtual practices, creates digital content, and assists with Junior Giants recruitment efforts.
Emmett has long served as the model of reliability, professionalism, and work ethic, both on and off the field. As much as he has contributed to the fabric of the Junior Giants community, he also acknowledges the incredible impact that the program has had on his personal life and development. Emmett received the Junior Giants Willie Mac Award for his tremendous sportsmanship in 2013 and was selected as an incoming Harmon and Sue Burns Scholar in 2014.
Making a positive impact on the lives of children in the Junior Giants program has always been his number one priority. Given his upbringing, he understands the importance of having a strong support system in place for the children that the Giants Community Fund serves. He credits the organization’s success over the last three decades to its commitment to not only developing better baseball players but better people.
Emmett has truly poured his heart and soul into his time with the organization and has connected with many Junior Giant players over the past several years. One memory that he holds especially dear is when he had the opportunity to select the Junior Giants Willie Mac Award recipients for the Willits League.
“Being a former Willie Mac Award recipient, I know how special it is to be chosen, and I was very honored to be able to give the honor to Skye Pruitt, a 12-year-old who reminded me a lot of myself when I won at that age,” says Reilly.
As he looks ahead, Emmett hopes that the Giants Community Fund will continue to grow in terms of scope, awareness, and impact. He remains committed to the Fund’s mission and he looks forward to furthering its cause for years to come.
Junior Giants Regional Ambassadors
Each year, a group of Junior Giants Regional Ambassadors joins the Community Fund team to ensure our Junior Giants AmeriCorps program runs without a hitch. Regional Ambassadors are responsible for assisting our AmeriCorps Associates and Ambassadors with all parts of their job. And this should come naturally as most of them have worked directly with a league and served as an AmeriCorps Ambassador prior to the Regional role.
On our team this year are 9 Regional Ambassadors, some of whom have served for 7 years in this role! We are beyond grateful for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm and knowledge this team brings to our Junior Giants program. Many thanks to Abby Carson, Karen Garcia, Daisy Guardado, Caylee Johnston, Shelby King, Nick Price, Jen Smith, Melissa Sousa and Celeny Sustaita.
Mikaela Mizuno | 2011 Harmon & Sue Burns Scholar and Junior Giants Alumna | Tracy, CA
Mikaela Mizuno is a former Junior Giants player in the Tracy league and a 2011 recipient of the Harmon & Sue Burns Scholarship. She has been an invaluable ambassador and advocate for the Giants Community Fund over the years, frequently speaking at events such as the Giants Community Fund’s Education Day in 2018 and the Harmon & Sue Burns Scholar Session featuring Stanford University earlier this year.
She credits the Harmon & Sue Burns Scholarship with providing her exposure to various colleges that she otherwise would not have had the opportunity to explore and champions the scholarship as an invaluable resource for all aspiring college students.
Mikaela values the Giants Community Fund’s emphasis on the importance of community and education and has enjoyed building relationships with individuals who are actively working toward bettering themselves as well as the world around them. These relationships inspired her to volunteer as a clinic coordinator as a student at UCLA to provide free medical care to vulnerable populations at California’s southern border. She plans to continue her education at UCLA as a medical student this upcoming fall.
“We’ve had such a tremendous impact because of our strong leadership,” says Mizuno. “The people in charge [at the Giants Community Fund] truly care about everyone involved and have put a lot of effort into making this a positive experience for all.”
One of her favorite moments as a member of the Giants Community Fund family was walking onto the field at Oracle Park for a pre-game ceremony, wearing a jersey with her name and graduation year on it. Looking forward, Mikaela would love to see more students gain access to scholarships and see more one-on-one assistance be made available to students who wish to apply to colleges and universities. She hopes that the Giants Community Fund will continue to expand their reach and be able to help more students, much in the same way the organization helped her.
Federico Marquez Murrieta | Junior Giants Alum and Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Recipient | American Canyon, CA
Federico Marquez Murrieta is a former Junior Giants player and the 2020 recipient of the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship. After joining the Junior Giants as a player in 2014, he has since been associated with the organization as an exemplary player and leader, both on and off the field. During his time with the Giants Community Fund, he has appreciated the Fund’s support, investment, and commitment to providing opportunities for younger generations. Federico intends to continue applying the fundamentals he learned as a Junior Giants player to help him grow personally and continually serve the greater good of his community.
Being a part of the Junior Giants has reinforced Federico’s belief in the value of helping others achieve social wellness and personal growth.
“The Giants Community Fund and the Junior Giants have had such a positive impact for so long because they support the core aspects of societal development: education, health, character development, and violence prevention,” says Murrieta. “These are all ways in which we can leave a positive impact on our communities.”
During high school, Federico was presented the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship by former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry. The scholarship has supported his college expenses and has encouraged him to continue leading by example.
Buster Posey | Giants Catcher and Junior Giants Commissioner
Since 2014, Giants catcher Buster Posey has supported the Giants Community Fund by serving as the Junior Giants Commissioner as well as hosting an annual special day at Oracle Park called the Buster Posey Glove Giveaway Day. Each year, 1,000 Junior Giants from across the state are invited to join Posey for a pre-game chalk talk, receive a brand new glove and enjoy a game at the ballpark that evening. Over the years, Posey has donated more than 6,000 gloves to kids in need. Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, a long-time Glove Drive supporter, has also lent his time to the event as well as Public Address Announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, Giants Producer Amy Gutierrez and the everyone’s favorite mascot, Lou Seal.
According to Posey, “The Glove Giveaway is a fantastic event with a great cause to help kids with the tools they need to have a fun and active season. I am always honored to be a part of it. This is a great opportunity for Junior Giants -- and seeing their enthusiasm for baseball gets us excited to play ball.”
Bill Schlough | San Francisco Giants Senior VP and CIO, and Giants Community Fund Fundraiser and Evangelist | San Francisco, CA
Bill Schlough, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for the San Francisco Giants, has been a member of the Giants Community Fund family for 15 years, acting as a fundraiser and ambassador across the globe. A former athlete, Bill believes deeply in the importance and impact that team sports can have on young people. He now works to provide children across all socio-economic backgrounds with the same benefits and opportunities that he was afforded as a child, viewing his role with the Giants Community Fund as a chance to show kids the virtues of teamwork and responsibility.
Bill takes great pride in his affiliation with the Fund and appreciates the support of the broader community to make the Junior Giants program possible. He has enjoyed speaking at events around the world to help spread the word about the Giants Community Fund – from New Jersey and Chicago, and all the way to New Zealand and Japan.
“We have a well-connected, highly engaged, and supportive board, as well as a staff and coaches that really believe in the mission and are passionate about what they do,” says Schlough.
As he looks ahead to the Giants Community Fund’s future, Bill hopes to see additional Junior Giants alumni go on to have successful careers and come back to support the program, continuing the family atmosphere and culture that’s been so impactful over the past 30 years.
Vanessa Gonzalez | Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassador | San Francisco, CA
Vanessa Gonzalez was a part of the Giants Community Fund for more than 7 years, most recently as a Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassador from 2014 to 2016. She began her tenure with the Junior Giants as an Ambassador for the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA league and soon after went on to supervise the league at the Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club in the Hunters Point area, along with four other leagues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. By 2016, she oversaw 10 different Junior Giants leagues across northern California and two in Oregon.
Vanessa found her inspiration to join the Giants Community Fund soon after graduating from the University of California at Santa Cruz in December 2013. After accepting an internship with the University of California at Berkeley’s student-athlete affairs community outreach team, she learned that she had a passion for community engagement and began searching for roles that would allow her to dive deeper into community service. She came across the Junior Giants AmeriCorps Ambassador role and immediately knew it was the perfect fit.
Vanessa looks back fondly on her time with the Giants Community Fund and appreciates how closely she was able to work alongside her fellow team members and families in the Bayview area. She views the Fund as part of her family and the cornerstone of her continuing career path in community service. Vanessa is currently the Public Affairs Manager with the Warriors.
“The relationships that I’ve built, especially within the Bayview community, have been long-lasting and built on authenticity and trust,” says Gonzalez. “This foundation has afforded me the opportunity to leave a positive impact on the families here.”
She credits the Giants Community Fund’s consistency over the past 30 years for its tremendous impact on the surrounding communities and hopes to see the organization remain flexible and forward-thinking as it looks to the future, especially as it relates to disparities in Black and Brown communities.
Dave Dravecky | San Francisco Giants Alumnus and Giants Community Ambassador | San Francisco, CA
As a San Francisco Giants alumnus and passionate Community Ambassador, Dave Dravecky is a valued and beloved member of the Giants Community Fund family. Many years ago after meeting with Sue Petersen, Executive Director of the Giants Community Fund, and learning more about the organization’s mission and values, he immediately knew he wanted to become a part of the Fund’s impactful work. Dave works year-round to help promote Giants Community Fund ventures such as the annual Play Ball Lunch, the opening of new ballparks for youth and banquets honoring Junior Giants players, coaches and Ambassadors. He views his role as an opportunity to give back to many underserved communities and show love to those who have made the Giants Community Fund what it is today.
Dave’s favorite part of working with the Giants Community Fund is building all of the incredible relationships that he has formed along the way.
“I consider it a privilege to be given the wonderful opportunity to help [the Giants Community Fund] in any way I can,” says Dravecky. “I learned a long time ago that it’s better to give than to receive, and this organization is doing exactly that! It’s a priceless experience.”
One of Dave’s favorite Giants Community Fund memories is the annual Junior Giants Willie Mac Awards ceremony, where kids receive bats engraved with the signature of the late Hall of Fame slugger, Willie McCovey. Dave enjoys seeing the player’s faces light up and appreciates that the Junior Giants coaches earn their much-deserved recognition as well.
Looking toward the future, Dave acknowledges that growth is necessary and inevitable, but stresses the importance of maintaining the Fund’s heart, its commitment to the children of the communities they serve and its strong relationships with volunteers. He notes that success will follow wherever good intentions lead.
Ron Exley | Volunteer, committee member, and Junior Giants coach | Concord, CA
Over the past 29 years, Ron Exley has served the Giants Community Fund in a variety of roles, including as a volunteer, committee member and Junior Giants coach. Ron was first contacted in 1989 by Giants Community Relations Director Dave Craig to assist the San Francisco Giants in formulating initiatives to give back to underserved youth in the Bay Area. He used his years of experience participating in Police Activity Leagues to help the Junior Giants program expand, continually reaching new heights over the course of nearly three decades. Ron was heartened to see the enthusiasm with which players and coaches supported the work that the Community Fund was doing.
Ron’s favorite part of working with the Giants Community Fund has been the opportunity to make an impact on areas like East Palo Alto, especially in the early days of the Junior Giants program.
“I met so many wonderful people during my time working with the Fund,” says Exley.
The program has provided inspiration, not just for the countless communities impacted, but for Ron himself. He has enjoyed the opportunity to spread awareness about violence prevention, food insecurity and other initiatives that the Community Fund has championed over the past three decades. This work has given Ron hope and purpose within his community, and brought him an immense amount of joy. As a Junior Giants coach, his favorite memory of the program is of a player who participated in the Round the Bases Reading program and taught his mother, an English language learner, how to read.
Looking ahead, Ron hopes that the Community Fund will continue to build upon the impactful work the organization has achieved within the past few decades. He hopes that by continuing to equip players with passionate, experienced mentors who can empathize with the Junior Giants, the magnitude of their impact will continue to grow.
Isaiah Sneed | Harmon & Sue Burns Scholar | Pacifica, CA (San Bruno league)
Isaiah Sneed is a Harmon & Sue Burns Scholar who has been involved with the Giants Community Fund for the past six years. He participates in a variety of Junior Giants activities and events, attends Scholar Sessions through Zoom, and has dedicated countless hours to advancing the Giants Community Fund’s mission of impacting underserved communities.
Isaiah credits his Junior Giants coach, Daryl Chin, for inspiring him to expand his horizons and get involved with the Giants Community Fund. He has enjoyed participating in Giants Community Fund events, engaging with his community and peers, and meeting new people throughout the organization.
“The Giants Community Fund] means a lot to me because it gives me the ability to meet new people. It has impacted my life because it affords me access to resources that I use to further my education, and it has allowed me to be closer with the Giants organization and foster my love of baseball,” says Sneed.
Isaiah credits the Giants Community Fund’s impact on the organization’s good nature and the value they place on education and diversity. His favorite Junior Giants memory is being announced as a Harmon & Sue Burns Scholar at a San Francisco Giants game in 2019. Isaiah looks forward to having an impact on the Fund for years to come and would like to continue his mission to expand outreach efforts to BIPOC communities and increase diversity in baseball.