Matthew Boyd was the Tigers’ Opening Day starter four months ago after spending part of the coronavirus shutdown keeping his arm fresh throwing long-toss in local parks. He was the team’s player representative for the MLB Players Association in the clubhouse this season, helping guide them through negotiations to play
Matthew Boyd was the Tigers’ Opening Day starter four months ago after spending part of the coronavirus shutdown keeping his arm fresh throwing long-toss in local parks. He was the team’s player representative for the MLB Players Association in the clubhouse this season, helping guide them through negotiations to play this summer. At home, he’s the proud father of two.
And yet, maybe the most amazing news for him this year happened half a world away. When workers broke ground on construction for a new home for 40 kids in Uganda, it marked a milestone for the Kingdom Home charity, which Boyd founded with his wife, Ashley.
What began a few years ago as an effort to help rescue three dozen children from child trafficking and sex slavery has grown to include 156 kids. If all goes well over the next year, they’ll have a self-sustaining complex of four homes, a well for water and both hydroponic and traditional farming to help provide food. It’s beyond what the Boyds could’ve imagined when they felt called by a humanitarian emergency to take the jump into their own charitable foundation.
“They all have a home feel,” Matthew Boyd said of the houses, which include kitchens, living spaces and separate sleeping quarters. “They're not orphanages. They're not dormitories. It's a home. And that's the goal: a home for these children.”
The homes have been in the planning stages for more than a year, from designing the rooms to acquiring land to gaining donations to help fund the project. It’s a big reason for the Boyds to be thankful this holiday.
“It’s really been a blessing,” he continued. “The restrictions with COVID delayed the timeline a little bit, but ground has been broken. It’s so exciting to see that. We're hoping to get [the first home] done in the next couple months. It's really cool to see all these things start to come to fruition and all the children can be on the same land together.”
That doesn’t mean the year has been easy.
When the coronavirus pandemic reached Uganda, the Boyds worried about the fate of the kids as well as their houseparents. Beyond the imminent risk to health, the pandemic led to restrictions on local markets, making it difficult to buy food and supplies.
For kids who were rescued from dangerous circumstances, the pandemic led to a new danger. For the Boyds, they had to worry and pray thousands of miles away.
“Please join us in praying for continued protection and peace over the entire Kingdom Home family in Uganda,” the Boyds posted in March on the Kingdom Home Instagram account.
Thankfully, Matthew Boyd said, everyone has stayed healthy. While Uganda has reportedly had more than 11,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, none have involved Kingdom Home. Meanwhile, the markets have opened back up.
“It's tough not being there,” he said, “but everything happens for a reason. We're just thankful all the children are safe. No one has been exposed. It's been a blessing in that sense.”
And that’s where his heart strings get tugged. Normally, this is the time of year that Boyd would’ve been there. Two years ago, he made his first visit. Last November, he brought Tigers teammate Spencer Turnbull. The experience of meeting the kids and seeing the impact their work has made was life-changing, and inspired Turnbull to embark on his own charitable efforts.
The pandemic scuttled any travel plans for this offseason. So like they do during most of the year, the Boyds follow from afar. It doesn’t dampen their emotions.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It's amazing what God can do. It's beyond anything my wife and I could've ever imagined. I would have never imagined more than the 36 children that we started with. I couldn't imagine the 156 children. I'm flattered and thankful and so grateful.”
To help support the effort, Matthew Boyd will host a live question-and-answer session on Giving at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday on their Instagram account @Kingdom.Home. He’ll take questions about their efforts in Uganda as well as about baseball. He’ll even answer some questions about new Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who reached out to Boyd after his hire, and pitching coach Chris Fetter.
“[Hinch is] so knowledgeable about the game,” Boyd said. “He's very knowledgeable just about what I do personally and what brings me success and how I deviated from it last year. It was really cool to hear his perspective and really cool to continue to learn from him as well. We're very fortunate to have all of these guys.”
For more information on Kingdom Home, visit kingdomhome.org.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.