Jays Care Young Professionals do diamond makeover
In early 2014, the Jays Care Foundation Young Professionals Network was launched to support the 21-member Young Professionals Committee and to connect like-minded, philanthropic individuals around Jays Care Foundation and the mission to invest in kids in need from coast to coast. Young professionals from across the GTA and beyond were quick to step up to the plate - the YPN now boasts 150 members, all working together to fundraise and provide for kids in need.
In partnership with the City of Toronto's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Baseball Diamond Makeovers are a grass-roots initiative to help ensure the safety and playability of baseball fields across the GTA. On April 28, 17 Jays Care Young Professionals donned their Jays Care Community Crew t-shirts and hats, and made their way to Bond Park in North York for the first of 12 Baseball Diamond Makeovers on deck for 2014.
Bond Park is home to the North York Baseball Association, which has nearly 60 teams - including both house league and select. The 650 participants in the NYBA range in age from five-21, and games and practices are held on the four baseball diamonds seven days per week.
"The beauty of our partnership with Jays Care is its multi-faceted nature," says Rob Myatt, Operations Officer - Partnership Development at City of Toronto. "The baseball diamond makeovers help the City ensure our baseball diamonds are safe and have a high quality of playability. It's very important to us that young people have a positive experience when playing baseball for the first time. Having a field that is safe and well-groomed can provide kids with that "big league" feel that will keep them coming back for years. Through Jays Care, the Blue the Jays impact the baseball community's growth with everything from building the diamonds to helping a kid learn to throw a ball. "
For many Jays Care Young Professionals, the Baseball Diamond Makeover marked the first time they were able to come together and support a Jays Care initiative while growing their network and meeting other young philanthropic sports enthusiasts.
"Everyone is incredibly welcoming," says Erin Treaux, 35. "I think it's important to volunteer with like-minded individuals who are passionate about the community and also have an affinity for baseball"
Diana Gourley, 2014 Young Professionals Committee Events Chair, was excited to not only make it out to her first Baseball Diamond Makeover, but also to witness Jays Care Young Professionals coming together for a good cause.
"It's very exciting," said Gourley. "It's incredible to see how many people have come out to volunteer their time to help get these baseball diamonds ready for the upcoming season. It's quite interesting to meet so many people from such diverse backgrounds and it's amazing to get to know these people who are passionate about helping Jays Care."
For some participants, it wasn't just about pitching in for a great cause, but also about combining lifelong passions.
"I've been a Jays fan my whole life," said Scott Blostein, 28. "I've always wanted to volunteer and start helping out in the community - I figured I might as well combine it with what I love in baseball. It's been great to get out and put some hard work into the diamonds and actually know that all these kids are going to benefit from it."
In just under six hours of work, the Jays Care team was able to prepare four baseball diamonds at Bond Park for the upcoming season, which included edging the infield, correcting the diamond grading and reshaping the diamond, base-pads and pitching mound.
"[The Baseball Diamond Makeover] was definitely hard work," says Treaux. "It feels great to know that you're doing this for people in the community - that you're putting your back into it and actually getting dirty. Being associated with Jays Care, you can feel good about what you're doing and the relationships you'll create."
Jays Care Young Professionals who missed out on the first volunteer opportunity are invited to participate in a 2nd local Baseball Field Refurbishment! The day will consist of various cleaning and revitalization duties, lunch and a group softball game at Earlscourt Park, on June 9, 2014. For more information, or to get involved, call Mark Bettencourt at 416.341.1446.
For more information on the YPN, or to become a member, please visit: www.bluejays.com/ypc or call Shonna Spicer at 416.341.1463.