We’re gonna need a bigger table…specifically a table with 1,160 seats, because that’s how many people gathered together and gave thanks last Friday at Marlins Park.
Friday marked the fourth annual Marlins Ayudan Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution. 1,000 guests from throughout the community came to receive free turkeys and Thanksgiving fixings compliments of the Marlins Foundation, Farm Share, Feeding South Florida, Pepsi and Goya. Guests expressed many thanks for the wonderful meals they were able to receive. Our guests had even more to be thankful for than simply the food - they were thankful for friends and neighbors, such as Abriendo Puertas, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Curley’s House, and Sagrada Familia, who were able to provide them with the opportunity to come as well as support all throughout the year. We all know that good company makes for great holidays, and that was definitely the case for the Marlins Thanksgiving guests as they got to get ready for their holiday side by side with Marlins players Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Tom Koehler, and Ed Lucas!
Many Miami families had a great evening on Friday, but we haven’t quite finished making our way around the giant table yet to hear everyone’s “thanks”. With thousands of pounds of food to be distributed, Marlins Ayudan front-office volunteers played a crucial role in this Thanksgiving celebration. Over 150 staff gathered around in the west plaza to unload, set-up, distribute, and prepare. Through all this work there was no shortage of thanks. One employee was thankful to be able to experience the teamwork it took to be able to provide 1,000 families with meals. Another employee gave thanks for the opportunity to grow her relationship with one of our Vice Presidents while working side-by-side. Colleagues were even thankful for the food that was provided!
It’s safe to say that although all the people involved in the Friday’s distribution won’t be able to gather around one 1,160-seat table, there were enough “thanks” and enough “giving” to make the day a successful Thanksgiving celebration!
There are few things that are as natural, basic, fulfilling, rewarding, and important as being a stewardly neighbor. Living in Miami, many of us are cooped up in our highrises, not venturing much farther than the parking garage or elevator when it comes to leaving our apartment or condo. On Thursday, 160 Miami Marlins employees took a step farther than the parking garage and got back to the basic notion of being a good neighbor.
Thursday morning hoards of “blue shirts” (Marlins staff clad in blue, ready to volunteer) loaded up school buses and went back to school. The blue shirts took over Citrus Grove Middle school, a Marlins Partner School and neighbor.
The Marlins front office joined up with Citrus Grove Middle school for the seventh Day of Service and Philanthropy. In one whirlwind day, Citrus Grove and the Marlins did all the things it takes some neighbors years to do. We learned who each other are through team mentoring. Two Marlins employees partnered with 13 middle school students for introspection and sharing. We shared each other’s past and history through guest speakers, ranging from thriving Citrus Grove alumni in the community to current Marlins players. We shared meals and gave each other gifts. We played games and learned lessons together…All in one day.
Marlins employees and Citrus Grove Middle School students spent a day bonding, learning, and growing. A curriculum specifically designed for the Day of Service incorporated “Jackie’s Nine Values”, values that Jackie Robinson lived by as articulated by his daughter Sharon, on the anniversary of his death.
As if the friendship and relationship building weren’t enough for one day, some other very tangible goals were accomplished on this day thanks to the partnership of the neighbors. The front entry way of Citrus Grove Middle School was painted and landscaped with the help of City Year Miami. The teacher’s lounge was gutted, repainted, and filled with new furniture and appliances. New bulletin boards went up around the school as well as colorful representations of Jackie’s Nine Values. Finally, every student received complimentary eye exams, and those in need, free glasses thanks to Miami Lighthouse for the Blind’s Florida Heiken Program.
At the end of the day, the faces of 160 smiling employees and 1,000 smiling students reminded me of how important and how simple it is to be a good neighbor. The Day of Service and Philanthropy was one impressive example of the partnership between neighbors, but in the big picture, it was just one small piece of the puzzle that is the continuing relationship between Citrus Grove Middle School and the Miami Marlins.
Photos courtesy of Miami Marlins
Beep beep beep beep beep……SMACK!……yeeahhhh!!! Woooo!!! Alright!!!……buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……thwack!
And that’s all there is to scoring a run in Beep Baseball. All it takes to score a run in beep baseball is a keen sense of sound, the ability to listen to hear where the ball is that you need to hit. All it takes to score a run in beep baseball is a place to play beep baseball and the expensive, hand-made equipment to play with. All it takes to score a run in beep baseball is teammates to play beep baseball with. To score a run in beep baseball it does not take the sense of sight.
Beep baseball gives those boys, girls, men, and women that are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to play the sport that sighted athletes love so much. It allows for competition, team-building, winning, and losing – all things we should all have access to. Beep baseball does this in a simple way, by adapting the game of baseball. A beeping ball and beeping bases mean players know where to swing and run without having to see where to swing and run.
President of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Virginia Jacko, put it nicely, a blind person can do everything a sighted person can, they just may have to do it a little different. That’s what the Beep Ball Classic – held yesterday at Marlins Park – taught everyone involved.
Yesterday, through Marlins Ayudan, the Marlins 2013 intern class hosted 25 guests from Miami Lighthouse for the Blind in a fun-filled day of beep ball games and bonding. The new friends from the Lighthouse learned what it means to feel the rush of athletic competition, something the interns can experience at any time through any sport. In return, the interns had the opportunity to learn what it’s like to navigate the world without sight, as they played beep ball blindfolded, searching for bases and balls they often never found.
In the 2013 Beep Ball classic, myself and many of my co-workers learned what it means to truly be on a level playing field. This particular playing field happened to be on the diamond at Marlins Park making it a once in a lifetime experience for everyone involved.
12 years ago… A day that none of us will ever forget. Those aren’t just words, but a truth from one of the most horrific days in our nation’s history. I was just a student at Miami Senior High sitting in my US History class, when the attack occurred. For some people the shock and horror hit them immediately, but for me it did not register emotionally until days later watching the aftermath that there were people in those buildings and that families and this country would forever be changed.
12 years later… those other high school students who were sitting in classrooms around the country just like I was, have now grown up and followed in the footsteps of the countless first responders, police officers & fire fighters who lost their lives on that date in history. While I am fortunate to work for a professional sports franchise that values service and social responsibility, it pales in comparison to the impact that these brave men and women have every day of their lives. I am not alone in these sentiments and when Logan Morrison approached us with the idea of spending the day at a Miami Firehouse it was something I couldn’t be more proud to share with the City of Miami Fire Department.
Firehouse No. 5, is located just a few blocks from Marlins Park and Morrison being the only Marlin to ever wear number five, made it the perfect match. Logan visited earlier today, touring the firehouse and even throwing on the full 50 pound gear in case there was an emergency call. Thankfully no calls came in during Logan’s visit, but he did have the opportunity to share lunch with the crew and show his gratitude and listen to stories of their experiences. At times it was almost like a scene from the show “Rescue Me;” bonding in the firehouse kitchen with the crew and seeing everyone working together like a family, even when preparing lunch with 14 hands in the kitchen.
While Logan probably could have spent the whole day there, we had to eventually head back to the ballpark in preparation for tonight’s game. However, before we left Logan presented the house with an autographed jersey with the inscription “To the true heroes…” and presented each firefighter with a Marlins Ayudan Challenge Coin. Then they thanked us for visiting, which on a day like today, caught me off guard and all I could do was respond with, “No… Thank you.”
“Excellence Through Service” – quote on City of Miami fire trucks
This past Wednesday, Marlins Ayudan and Jungle Island partnered to provide a group of 30 campers from the Boys and Girls Hank Kline Unit with a unique behind the scenes day at Jungle Island. The day kicked off with one-on-one interactions with a couple of the park’s featured animals. The children met everything from Kangaroos to Capuchin Monkeys and from Alligators to Opossums. Following the animal interactions, the campers and Ayudan team headed off to the Winged Wonders Show where they received a presentation on some rare and impressive birds.
The Winged Wonders Show was followed by the Wild Encounters Show. The Wild Encounters Show featured a couple of furry friends including a Tabby Tiger and a Howler Monkey. After the show the group was provided with an exclusive tour of the park led by one of the park’s lead curators, Dr. Jason Chatfield. It was a tremendous opportunity for the campers to pick the brain of one of the park’s leading animal experts. To cap it all off, each child received a complimentary monkey plush toy courtesy of Jungle Island.
It was an exciting and adventure-filled day and one these campers will always remember.
Many thanks to our friends at Jungle Island for providing this incredible and unique access to the park!