Hendriks happy to 'help the little guy out'
New White Sox closer already active with charity groups in Chicago
CHICAGO -- Liam and Kristi Hendriks wanted to start giving back to the chosen city where they signed as soon as his free-agent process was complete.
In fact, that question became an integral part of their interview process with potential teams during this past offseason.
“On all of the Zoom meetings we had with all of the teams we met with, we said it’s extremely important for us to be able to immerse ourselves in the community,” Kristi Hendriks told MLB.com during a recent interview. “We find the best way is by volunteering and giving back.
“We like to bring attention to things that are happening in the community via Liam’s platform. If we don’t use the platform he is given when he has it, I feel like we totally missed the mark. And for us, it was just very easy.”
Easy and dedicated enough that after Liam came to Chicago and took his physical to finalize a four-year, $54 million contract, they already were planning their first contribution. Firefighters from all three platoons at Engine 29 near Guaranteed Rate Field were treated to lunch from Nana restaurant with a video message of appreciation from Liam and Kristi included.
Saint James Food Pantry received 20 meals from Gio’s Café & Deli, while Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center received 50 meals from Sweet Maple Café. The Hendriks family also donated 40 meals from Taylor’s Tacos to Howard Brown Health on 63rd Street in the Chicago neighborhood of Englewood.
Thursday’s home opener, featuring a 6-0 White Sox victory over the Royals, brought about a party for youth seeking treatment and their families at the La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Jackson Park. The Hendriks’ financial support arranged treats, gifts and a special video message for the nearly 300 patients, family members and hospital staff in attendance.
Feed the Frontline has been the Hendriks’ slogan during this year. Liam, who is quite possibly the game’s top closer, would prefer to do things in person, but he's happy to assist in any way possible in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You help the little guy out,” Liam told MLB.com during a separate interview. “You help the guy who is struggling a little bit, because in turn that person goes out, and when they get a chance to give back, they just do it. It’s a continuous cycle of making sure people know that there are kind people in this world and not everyone is out to get them.
“The biggest thing is making sure that everyone knows there is someone out there who is thinking of them and thanking them for what they do, especially during this time. It’s making sure nobody is left behind and realizing the fact how much they mean to this society and the community.”
There’s an equal love for animals shared by the Hendrikses, reinforced recently during a Zoom call in which Liam finished the interview by talking to one of the reporter’s dogs as he was held near the screen. The Hendrikses are involved in an Illinois-based dog rescue, Players for Pits, and own numerous pets themselves.
“For legal reasons, I probably shouldn’t answer that question,” Liam said with a laugh when asked how many pets they have. “We have several. We've got a farm out there, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Hendrikses giving nature will continue throughout the 2021 season. Kristi explained the original plan of giving back every two weeks leading up to the home opener has been expanded to an ongoing every two weeks.
“It started with Spring Training, and we are just going to do it throughout the year,” Kristi said. “So every two weeks, there’s going to be a new organization that just has lunch on us with a thank you that we can give.
“It’s also fun, though, because we get to connect with people that I probably wouldn’t with on a general basis. So we get to know our community better. We get to know the inner workings of the community, and I just feel like we can express gratitude to the community as a whole that way.”
The Hendrikses have moved more than 50 times, per Kristi’s recollections. But they feel as if Chicago is now home.
“Chicago is going to be a really good fit for Liam and I, and I think the White Sox are a really great fit for Liam in particular,” Kristi said. “Everyone has been so great for us, and you definitely know when you meet people who are fans of the South Side, which is exciting.
“They are so excited to hear that Liam is here. I appreciate that, because all I want is for Liam to be accepted and to do his job well and to be a part of a community and team.”