The following is a Guest Blog Post from Karl Ebert, Event Services Manager for the Miami Marlins:
Proud to be an American? I am. I most definitely am proud to be an American. I had the very distinctive honor to fly to visit the troops that keep us free. In December 2014, I and 8 others (3 players, 3 Energy Team members and 2 other front office staff) embarked on an incredible journey to Oman, Qatar and UAE. We visited the troops on Army and Air Force bases in those countries, getting to take a look into their everyday lives while on deployment. We were not on the front line and there was no one shooting at us, but the behind the scenes life on base was just as eye-opening as what we are shown in the media.
The men and women we met gave us a great insight into the military, their struggles and accomplishments and the war itself. This trip is meant for us to give back to the troops, but in many ways, I think we took away more than the troops did. It was humbling to know that while we were on a trip of a lifetime, the troops were also having the time of their lives, meeting baseball players, getting autographs and seeing performances. For us, it was operating the explosive robots, riding in the front line vehicles, taking photos with the patriot missiles, letting the military dogs chase us, singing karaoke, or just sharing a meal together. They may not have been Marlins fans or even baseball fans, but they were open to meeting us and seeing something different.
At times we get caught up in the monotony of our everyday lives, but over there it really opens your eyes that these guys, even though they may not be Marlins fans, or baseball fans in general, appreciated every second of it. To us, giveaways are no big deal, the dance performances don’t change and an autograph session is the same as any other — but to the troops, they mean everything. It becomes a taste of home for them, it’s a way for them to disconnect and it reminds us just how important what we do is.
The highlight of the trip for me was to actually break away from the group and spend time with a bunch of troops who served in Fire Department of the base. We didn’t go driving in the truck, or put on the suit, or hook the hose up put out imaginary fires; we sat around a table and did a puzzle, just talking. We played games and just got to know each other.
It was in one of those conversations that it dawned on me that we were both in that room, in Oman, serving each other. The military is a wonderful thing when you think about it. It has a way of gathering thousands of people together from all parts of the country and all walks of life, connecting them all. Land of the free, home of the brave: they aren’t just words in our anthem; they are a creed to live by and what our troops defend.
From all those men and women I met over there, they will defend that creed to a resounding theme that we are all Americans and damn proud of it.
Marlins Ayudan teams have kicked it into high gear since the start of the 2015-2016 Ayudan competitive year in June. Fourteen team events have been held from June 13th to present day. That’s an average of two events every week!
On Monday July 20th, Ayudan team Ana’s Heroes visited Las Palmas Senior Center with four members of the Marlins Energy Team. Blue Shirts and Energy Teamers danced and chatted with elderly residents, played bingo and dominos, and enjoyed pastelitos and croquettes provided by Ana’s Heroes.
Every resident of the center had a smile on their face! They couldn’t have been happier to have us. One resident explained that their usual guests are representatives from wellness centers and nurses reminding them to take their medication and check their blood pressure. The Marlins were a welcome change. Las Palmas enjoyed the visit so much that they told five of their other elderly centers who can’t wait to have the Marlins visit them!
On Thursday July 23rd, Ayudan team Habitat for Winning took a drive down to Good Hope Equestrian Training Center to assist with therapeutic riding sessions for adult participants with intellectual disabilities. Participants performed various exercises while riding horses. Three Blue Shirts surrounded each rider, one on either side of the horse and one to lead, to ensure their safety while offering encouragement and praise for a job well done. Blue Shirts also helped saddle horses and give them baths after sessions were through.
Today, Marlins Ayudan had two events! The Voice took a group of 25 youth from the Boys and Girls Club to Bird Bowl. Youth bowled with Blue Shirts for an hour and a half before pizza and soda were served for lunch, which was instantly devoured! Everyone had a great time and The Voice was happy to engage the kids in a little friendly competition followed by high fives and “Good job!”
Every Friday during the summer, an Ayudan team has visited Fisher House to prepare a meal for families of veterans who are being treated at the VA. Team Fishing for Potential covered today’s Fisher House Friday and prepared a taco bar with all the fixin’s! The menu featured homemade mango salsa, refried beans and guacamole. Other dishes included chicken and beef tacos and burritos, queso dip, jalapeño poppers and taquitos. The guests really enjoyed the food, especially the mango salsa! They were so appreciative of our support. It truly is our pleasure to help.
Are you prepared for a disaster?
On May 27th, Marlins Ayudan Blue Shirts received a one-on-one lesson in disaster preparedness from Misty Lupinacci, an AmeriCorps volunteer and emergency management support specialist from HandsOn Broward.
Misty gave a total of eight 20-minute presentations at Marlins Park to all staff. She began her presentation explaining the most common disastrous situations for Floridians. Those include fire, floods, and hurricanes. I learned that floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. and that electricity can be carried through water, so when officials say stay out of the water, listen!
I also learned that it takes less than two minutes to get out of your house in the case of a fire and that the number one cause of household fires is overloaded electrical sockets. Misty also warned us not to keep cleaning products under our kitchen sinks because most fires start in the kitchen and those chemicals are extremely flammable. I went home that same day and moved all of my cleaning products from the kitchen to the laundry room!
Last was hurricane preparedness. Hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th. The last hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in 2005. A lot has changed in ten years, including new residents to the area. Some people who live in Florida now may have never experienced a hurricane. For those who have, it doesn’t hurt to know the facts, make a plan, and prepare a kit.
Misty explains, “It’s important to be prepared because first responders will not always be able to help you immediately after a disaster. Preparation reduces the risk of death, injury, and property damage during a disaster. Every $1 spent on preparation saves $4 in recovery.”
One important thing to remember when preparing your property for a hurricane is to go tapeless; don’t tape windows because it causes glass to break in large shards, which causes more damage. Invest in shutters. Trim trees and bushes that have dead or already broken branches.
The next important step is to make a communication plan. Misty asks, “How will you get in touch with each other if you’re separated and your phones don’t work? What if your neighborhood is being evacuated?” The solution is to create a list of numbers including work, parents’ cell, neighbors, schools and one out-of-town contact. The out-of-town contact serves as the middle man in case separated family members have service at different times. Choose a meeting spot outside your neighborhood, like a library or shelter, where your family can reconnect if separated, and role-play what you would do during a disaster.
Last, but not least, is preparing a kit. Having a kit could be the difference between life and death. Essential items to have in your kit include:
- Non-perishable food
- First aid kit
- Water (2 gallons of water per person, per day)
- Battery-powered radio
- Manual can opener
- Baby supplies
- Pet Supplies
Misty’s presentation was 20 minutes well spent. I didn’t have a kit or a plan before she came to Marlins Park. I feel better prepared now that I have the facts.
HandsOn Broward/Miami has a Disaster Response Team and a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) to help the community in times of disaster. To learn about how to get involved visit, HandsOnBroward.org.
June 5th marked the end of the 2014-2015 Marlins Ayudan competitive year. 15 Ayudan teams competed for first place from June 2014 to June 2015. Prizes included an engraved trophy, a paid day off, bragging rights, and most importantly, recognition for being the most dedicated team or individual to community service.
For the second year in a row, team The Voice claimed first place as Team of the Year. They blazed past the competition from the start. The team’s captain, Claude Delorme, Executive Vice President of Operations and Services, takes community service to the heart and makes sure his team remains active in the community every month of the year. They sometimes even managed to have two events in one month, which is pretty incredible given baseball’s demanding schedule. What’s even more incredible is that they have 90%-100% participation at each of their events. This is a task in itself for it’s difficult to get 15 team members with different schedules from dozens of different departments on the same page at the same time.
The Voice visits Miami Rescue Mission once a month to serve meals, work at the Bargain Barn, and assist wherever help is needed. Mr. Delorme thinks no person should have to live on the streets. Seeing how many homeless people there are in Miami triggered his desire to help. Miami Rescue Mission aids men, women and children with meals, safe shelter and life-changing residential programs resulting in transformed lives. The Voice also has a special interest in animal services. They’ve volunteered for Miami-Dade animal service and even partnered with the group to host Adopt-O-Mania at Marlins Park. This year, a record 140 animals were adopted!
The Voice surpassed second place by more than 11,000 points! Honorable mentions include Fishing for Potential captained by Alfredo Mesa, Vice President and Executive Director of the Marlins Foundation, in second place and team Pulse captained by Sean Flynn, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Event Booking, in third place.
Lisa Milk of team The Voice took first place for the most dedicated individual to community service. Lisa has a passion for animals and has spent nearly every weekend of the year volunteering for No Paws Left behind transporting dogs, working at adoption events and performing home checks to assure potential adopters are suited to be pet owners. Honorable mentions include Angela Smith, Senior Director of Community Outreach in second place and Alex Buznego, Director of Business and Digital Innovation in third place.
The 2015-2016 Ayudan competitive year has officially begun! To stay up to date on all Marlins Ayudan activities, visit marlins.com/ayudan.
For day three of Marlins Think Tank visits, Adrian Mora, manager of Marlins Ayudan, and I visited Citrus Grove Elementary with Bryan and Chelsey Morris. I can’t even begin to explain what a great experience I had! I was completely blown away by the school’s creativity and hospitality. As soon as we entered the computer lab where the classes were waiting, the students began singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and even had actual peanuts and Crackerjacks in their hands. It was obvious that Ms. Ruiz and Ms. Coates’ classes put a lot of effort and thought into the skits they performed for the student presentation portion of the visit. They were informative and humorous.
The first skit was based off of a Marlins Think Tank social studies lesson: primary and secondary sources. The students reenacted a baseball game. Ms. Coates would ask a question related to the lesson, the batter answered, and the pitcher pitched until each student had a chance to bat and run the bases.
Ms. Ruiz’s class performed a similar skit. Equipped with sound effects and props, the students reenacted a baseball experience. A student announcer opened the game, introducing each team while baseball organ music played in the background. There were team huddles, and the game began. The lesson being demonstrated was science- muscle groups. As the game went on, the announcer explained the plays and which muscles were being used, “Skeletal muscles were used by the batter to hit the ball and run. Skeletal muscles can be controlled and are attached to our bones.”
My cheeks hurt from how much I smiled and laughed during both presentations! The students and teachers thanked the Marlins again and again, but we were just as thankful for such a great experience. I felt proud of all of the students for their hard work, and boy does hard work pay off! It might just earn you a visit from a Miami Marlins player!
To access lessons and to view official rules for Marlins Think Tank, visit marlins.com/thinktank.