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Birdland Community Heroes

The Orioles Birdland Community Heroes program honors and recognizes community heroes who inspire us through their spirited commitment to extend a hand in charity, service, hope, and harmony. This recognition honors the heroism of members of our extended Orioles community from all walks of life, occupations, and diverse backgrounds living in our region, our country, and abroad, who have distinguished themselves by selflessly working or volunteering in fields that care for, serve, teach, protect, and improve the lives of others, around the corner or around the globe, who are most in need.

The program honors designated Birdland Community Heroes for every weekend home game throughout the season. Selected honorees each receive four game tickets, VIP parking, an award medal, and the opportunity be featured during an in-game ceremony on the video board at the conclusion of the fifth inning. During each Birdland Americana Weekend, the Orioles continue the tradition of celebrating American principles and ideals with the playing of classic, American songs during the seventh-inning stretch including "This Land Is Your Land" on Fridays, "America, The Beautiful" on Saturdays, and "God Bless America" on Sundays.

Below, meet our 2019 Birdland Heroes.

Birdland Americana Weekend - August 23-25

Friday, August 23

The Orioles recognized EDWIN AVENT, as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. For over 28 years, Avent has served the Baltimore community as a leader through education, mentoring, scouting, and scholarship grants to boys in the city. In 1991, he co-founded Black Professional Men, Inc., a nonprofit organization that utilizes local professionals to become mentors to the young men of Baltimore. He also serves as one of the founding board members and the Chairman of the Board of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school in Baltimore that enrolls fourth to eighth grade boys with aspirations of attending college. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys - Five Smooth Stones Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, August 24

The Orioles recognized 10-year-old ZOE LASHLEY, Artist and CEO of The Rep, as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. After winning first place in the 2019 Biz Kidz Shark Tank Business competition, Lashley launched The Rep, and has since been a beacon of inspiration donating proceeds from her business to local art related programs at MICA and BMA that benefit young aspiring artists. Lashley is also an active member of her neighborhood community arts center, 901 Arts. After her first art sale, Lashley decided to give a portion of her proceeds back to a scholarship at 901 Arts, so that another child in need could attend an art camp this summer, just like she did. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to 901 Arts in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program. 

Sunday, August 25

The Orioles will recognize SEAN AUGUSTUS, the Admissions Director and Administrative Supervisor at University Psychological Center, Inc. - Recovery Network as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. As an integrated behavioral health program, UPC has offered substance abuse and mental health services to the Baltimore-Washington area since 1976. Augustus orginally entered as a patient and throughout the past nine years worked to become a peer advocate, a substance abuse counselor/peer, and currently serves as Admissions Director. The Orioles Charitable Foundation will make a $2,500 donation to UPC - Recovery Network in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - August 9-11

Friday, August 9

The Orioles recognized DARLENE CRIDER, co-founder of the Sisters In Law, Inc. as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. As a former Baltimore police officer, Crider helped create the Sisters In Law, Inc. (SIL) in 2011 after she noticed a need for positive influence for the young women in the Baltimore community. SIL works to help inspire girls to reach their maximum potential through goal setting, positive decision making, increasing academic achievements, and helping empower young women to lead change. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to SIL in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, August 10

The Orioles will recognized DHARSHAN VARIA of the Metro South Asian Deaf Association (MSADA) as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. As a child of a deaf adult, Varia has been a member of the deaf community from birth. Recently, Varia's efforts led to the formal creation of the MSADA Youth Committee, which represents the children of over 100 deaf adults and students at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Metro South Asian Deaf Association in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, August 11

The Orioles will recognized GAEL GRIFFITH, a 4-year-old from Baltimore, as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. For his fourth birthday, Gael asked that guests bring donations to his firefighter-themed party. He raised $270 for the Baltimore City Fire Foundation Inc., which helps injured firefighters and their families. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Baltimore City Fire Foundation Inc. in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - August 2-4

Friday, August 2

The Orioles will recognized Harwood Community Association's President MILLER J. ROBERTS, III and Vice President YVONNE FISHER, as Friday's Birdland Community Heroes. Located in East Baltimore, the Harwood Association introduced the East Harwood Beautification Project which creates new painted facades for the vacant and abandoned properties by using works painted by local students. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to Harwood Community Association in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, August 3

The Orioles recognized LISA MORABITO, Director of Operations at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc. (BARCS) as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Morabito, a passionate animal welfare professional, has dedicated her career to saving and improving the lives of animals and pet owners in Baltimore City. She has implemented nuimerous programs during her tenure at BARCS, enhancing the shelter's ability to operate more effectively to maximize life-saving. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to BARCS in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, August 4

The Orioles recognized JERRY EDWARDS, President, Chef's Expressions Catering and Events, as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. As the current Board Chair for The Visit Baltimore Education and Training Foundation, Edwards has expanded the City Schools program, which brought 70 eligible schools and nearly 4,000 students to experience Baltimore's STEM-rich attractions in 2018. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to The Visit Baltimore Education and Training Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - July 19-21

Friday, July 19

The Orioles recognized JOHN HEJL as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. Hejl has spent the past eight years volunteering at the Maryland Food Bank, organizing a group that volunteers their efforts every month, while he also began to volunteer on his own twice a week. Over his years of service, he has helped sort, pack, and distribute meals, survey patrons at the soup kitchens, and rescue food from local restaurants and deliver it to soup kitchens and food pantries in Baltimore. Additionally, he volunteers weekly at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, provides groceries for the Community Christian Church Pantry once a month, leads a team with Thirst No More, and helps the setup and take down Day of Home twice a year. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Maryland Food Bank in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, July 20

During the game, the Orioles recognized Baltimore Police Department Officer ADRIAN AMOS as the Birdland Community Hero. Officer Amos leads the Eastern District Explorer Post and coordinates other explorer posts to attend the National Conference. In 2016, he received the YMCA of Central Maryland's "Youth Development Award" for his dedication as a mentor to city youth to help them become the future leaders in the community. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Baltimore Police Explorers program in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, July 21

The Orioles recognized the staff from THE ST. MICHAELS COMMUNITY CENTER, INC. including TRISH PAYNE, ROSE PALOMBO, KAREN MOANEY, AMY DEWITT, APRIL ADAMS, ANGE OTERI, and MARK SINGLETON as Sunday's Birdland Community Heroes. Since 1990, the St. Michaels Community Center has been serving the Bay Area Community of Talbot County, Md., by including services and a safe haven for the community. They provide programs such as: food distribution from the Maryland Food Bank twice weekly, after school programs and classes to students grades K-5 throughout the school year including summer classes and field trips, and many more outreach programs and events. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the St. Michaels Community Center, Inc. in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - July 12-14

Friday, July 12

The Orioles recognized JOAN MARIE TWINING, Founder, Executive Director, and Vision Keeper of the Rose of Sharon Equestrian School (ROSES), as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. Established in 1998, ROSES is a strength-based program that partners people with special needs and second-career horses to facilitate change, growth, and healing in both, as well as the volunteers who serve them. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Rose of Sharon Equestrian School in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program

Saturday, July 13

During game one of Saturday's doubleheader, the Orioles recognized ANDRE BROWN, Gardenville Baseball League Commissioner and Orioles 16-18 RBI Coach, as the Birdland Community Hero. Brown has been involved with the Gardenville Baseball League for the last 16 years, and has had a prominent impact on over 500 players, parents, and colleagues throughout his coaching career. Brown and his coaching staff led the 2017 Senior Orioles RBI Baseball Division team to the World Series in Cincinnati after winning the RBI Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament in Philadelphia. In 2015, Brown was recognized by the City of Baltimore for his outstanding community service efforts. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to Fusion Partnership in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, July 14

The Orioles recognized KATE PRIMM, Principal of The Green School of Baltimore, as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. One of the first public charter schools in the city, The Green School provides elementary school students with a hands-on learning program that incorporates study of the environment into every academic and extracurricular experience. Primm has been involved with The Green School since planning to open the school began in 2004, and in 2015, she was designated by Baltimore City Public Schools as a Transformational Principal, recognized for inspiring and mentoring both peers and students while ensuring excellent teaching and learning in every classroom. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to The Green School of Baltimore in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - June 28-30

Friday, June 28

The Orioles recognized VEDIKA KRISHNA as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. Since 2016, Vedika has participated in Junior Achievement's Rising Women, an entrepreneurship program that gives young women in Howard County the opportunity to start and run a business by teaching how to conceptualize, market, and build a company. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Junior Achievement of Central Maryland in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, June 29

KATE JAKUTA, Family Stability Case Manager, Southeast Community Development Corporation (CDC), was honored as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Since joining the Southeast CDC in 2016, Kate has worked tirelessly with families in the Highlandtown neighborhood to help them avoid homelessness by providing financial and emotional support, and has helped hundreds of individuals in their time of need. When she is not working at the CDC, Kate volunteers with the Latino Racial Justice Circle, the Maryland Pro Bono Resource Center, and the Latino Providers Network (LPN). She was named the recipient of the 2018 Community Service Award by the LPN for her "outstanding service with the Southeast CDC and the Latino Racial Justice Circle." The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Southeast Community Development Corporation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes Program.

Sunday, June 30

The Orioles recognized DAVID PREZIUSO of the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. For the last three years, David has facilitated used baseball equipment drives for the Oriole Advocates Cardboard to Leather™ collection. He has publicized and organized collection drives at his school, Caravel Academy in Bear, Del., which have added over 1,000 items annually to the Cardboard to Leather™ campaign. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - June 14-16

Friday, June 14

The Orioles recognized ERIC OBERLECHNER as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. As Farm Manager of the Green Street Academy, a public charter school for grades 6-12, Oberlechner has worked with students, faculty, and the community to teach environmental stewardship in fun and engaging ways. He helped create a trio of storm water management projects including a bioretention bench, rain garden, and pollinator meadow which he and his students continue to maintain and manage. He also started, and continues to manage, the aquaponics, hydroponics, and fish labs as part of the agriculture program. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Green Street Academy in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, June 15

DR. HOWARD BRENT was honored as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Dr. Brent earned his Ph.D in Education while being a foster parent and working full-time with Prince George's County Public School as a consulting teacher and trainer. He first started as a therapeutic foster parent with KidsPeace in May of 2018, and after completing a rigorous foster parent training course, he began fostering 12-year-old Jerimiah in August of 2018. Brent helped improve Jerimiah's grades and build his confidence. On June 7, Brent officially adopted Jerimiah. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to KidsPeace in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, June 16

DR. PHIL PIERORAZIO was recognized as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero as a member of The James Buchanan Brady Urological Insitute at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Pierorazio actively volunteers with the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation and serves as a Board Member and Medical Advisor for the foundation. Dr. Pierorazio organizes social gatherings named the "Beers, Bros & Balls" for testicular cancer survivors and their families. These events promote the wellbeing of survivors, encourage a community of survivorship, and spread awareness about the disease. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - May 31-June 2

Friday, May 31

The Orioles recognized BRIAN R. MORRISON as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. Morrison is the founder and co-founder of two Baltimore-based national children's charities: The Believe In Tomorrow Children's Foundation and The Children's House at Johns Hopkins. Believe In Tomorrow, a leading provider of pediatric support services to U.S. Military famlies with critically-ill children, has nine pediatric respite and hospital housing facilities located throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, serving children from across the United States. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Believe In Tomorrow Children's Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, June 1

GUY BERRY, President of Frederick Challenger Little League, and Assistant District Administrator of Maryland Little League District 2, was honored as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Guy, an adoptive father of four special needs children, has worked tirelessly to raise awareness for special needs citizens in the able-bodied baseball community. He has lobbied to the International Little League Congress for rule changes to the nationwide Challenger program that have led to the creation of a Senior Division of Challenger, as well as the concept of district-wide territorial charters for Challenger Divisions. Berry was also the recipient of the 2019 John Salony Award, which is presented each year to someone with exceptional service to Challenger Baseball. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the Oriole Advocates Charitable Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, June 2

KEN KING was recognized as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. King, the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches (MSABC) President, and MSABC Geier Financial Brooks Robinson Senior All-Star Game Chairperson, has spent 15 years as part of the MSABC administrative staff as a secretary, chairperson, regional chairperson, and now president. King has served tens of thousands of student athletes and baseball players through his 25 years of coaching and teaching throughout Maryland. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to MSABC in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - May 10-12

Friday, May 10

In honor of Nurses Appreciation Week, SUE RAMZY, a trauma resuscitation and Shock Trauma nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, was recognized as Friday's Birdland Community Hero. Ramzy, a nurse for over 40 years, has helped thousands of individuals injured in traumatic situations. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center Director's Nursing Fund in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, May 11

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, the Orioles recognized U.S. Army Sergeant MATTHEW HUNT as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero for his dedication to serving our country. A Purple Heart recipient and Soldier of the Year (1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery 3rd), he spent 10 years as a field artilleryman in the U.S. Army, completing two tours in Iraq. Sgt. Hunt was injured by a suicide car bomber during his second tour of duty. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to the USO in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, May 12

As part of the Orioles Mother's Day Weekend festivities, ANN LAUGHTON was recognized as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. Laughton, a breast cancer survivor herself, has devoted her work to helping other breast cancer patients as the Program Coordinator at Survivors Offering Support (SOS), a volunteer organization for breast cancer patients to share their experiences and talk about issues they are facing with trained volunteers who have been through similar types of surgeries and treatments. The Orioles Charitable Foundation made a $2,500 donation to SOS at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - May 3-4

Friday, May 3

As part of MLB's annual Play Ball Weekend, President of the South Baltimore Little League, QUINN HREN, was recognized as Friday's Birdland Community Hero for her continued efforts to ensure recreational baseball is accessible to children ages 4-12 in South Baltimore. A volunteer with the South Baltimore Little League for over 27 years, Hren has also served on the Board of Directors and as President for 13 years. Her efforts have an impact on more than 300 children and 200 families each year, and throughout her years of service, over 5,000 children. The Orioles Charitable Foundation also made a $2,500 donation to South Baltimore Little League in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Saturday, May 4

On Saturday, Battalion Fire Chief DONALD V. FLETCHER, JR. from Prince George's County Fire Department was recognized as the Birdland Community Hero for his acts of heroism and dedication to helping the community. A firefighter for 14 years, Fletcher was awarded a bronze medal of valor for rescuing a trapped firefighter and a unit citation for rescuing a trapped father and son from a house fire. In February of this year while off duty, Fletcher put his life on the line to rescue a man from a burning car. The Orioles Charitable Foundation also made a $2,500 donation to Prince George's County Fire Department in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program. Fletcher was nominated for the recognition by Orioles infielder CHRIS DAVIS.

Birdland Americana Weekend - April 20-21

Saturday, April 20

KATE HOGAN, MPH, RD/LDN, a Pediatric Dietician at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital was honored as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Hogan has been helping children and families adopt healthier eating habits at Mt. Washington for over 13 years. Most recently, Hogan combined her love of gardening with her work in nutrition to spearhead the creation of a community garden at the hospital. The Orioles also made a $2,500 donation to the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Sunday, April 21

Fisheries Scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ALLISON COLDEN, was recognized as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. As the Maryland Fisheries Scientist, Colden is responsible for developing and advocating for policies that support the recovery of Chesapeake Bay's iconic fisheries, like oysters and crabs. Colden organizes groups and citizens across the watershed to support good management of Maryland's natural resources, and provides technical support to CBF's oyster restoration projects. The Orioles made a $2,500 donation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.

Birdland Americana Weekend - April 6-7

Saturday, April 6

Executive Director of Baltimore Community ToolBank, NOAH SMOCK, was honored as Saturday's Birdland Community Hero. Smock, who has served as Executive Director since 2014, has helped serve hundreds of community organizations with tools, equipment and expertise to empower their dynamic work, and has deepened service offerings by providing opportunities for community networking and on-site environmental education at the ToolBank facility in Southwest Baltimore City. The Orioles also made a $2,500 donation to the Baltimore Community ToolBank in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program. Since joining the organization in 2014, the ToolBank has served over 212,000 individuals with tools and equipment for their community projects.

Sunday, April 7

TYLER STALLINGS, a seven-year-old from Halethorpe, Md., was recognized as Sunday's Birdland Community Hero. Recently featured on NBC's Little Big Shots, Stallings, the CEO of Kid Time Enterprises, assists veterans by creating "hero packs," which provide hygiene products and other necessary items to homeless veterans. The Orioles also made a $2,500 donation to the Maryland Center for Veteran Education & Training in support of the Birdland Community Heroes program.