by David Rhode
For the first 4+ years at Pitch In For Baseball I had the privilege of hand-selecting a vast majority of the equipment our organization shipped to our worthy recipients. However, as the organization has grown, more staff have come on board and I’ve refocused my time on some of the long term partnerships and fundraising that is necessary for the organization to be sustainable and meet our goals. As a result, warehouse responsibilities are now in the very capable hands of Tom Schoenfelder and others to manage the operations side of the charity.
Anyone who has ever packed up equipment at Pitch In For Baseball takes away a great feeling of pride and accomplishment. This is where the rubber meets the road for our charity. Sending out equipment is how we make a difference in the world.
Today I asked Tom to put me to work. I haven’t packed up anything so far this year and I miss it. I packed up donations heading to high school programs in Mississippi, California and Philadelphia as well as a donation to a family in Kentucky. It was one of the best days I’ve had in months.
Gloves, balls, bats, helmets, cleats and uniforms are the currency we trade in. Picking out the items and packing them in boxes is a great reminder of what we do and why we spend so much of our time in building the organization.
The quality of the equipment we have in stock is awesome. As Tom mentioned in his recent blog, some things get better with age and baseball gloves and catcher’s mitts definitely fit that mold. Our donors have really sent us some tremendous stuff.
So if you are ever looking for a great way to spend a few hours, pay us a visit and we’ll put you to work. Getting your hands dirty here is a great way to spend a day,
by David Rhode
You know that expression “when America sneezes, the world catches a cold”. It often refers to the effect on the economy globally that can be felt when something of significance happens in the US.
The same can be said of organized youth baseball. When Little League International sneezes, things happen in the world of youth baseball. Today Little League sneezed, and Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) is going to feel it…in a good way.
As they’ve done in the past, Little League has asked their member leagues to make equipment donations benefitting Pitch In For Baseball. This is a very generous thing for Little League to do given the size and scope of their network of leagues and volunteers. For some reason, the letter they sent out today really hit home. Our phone lines and email inboxes can attest to the positive impact that this request for assistance is having. In the days and weeks to come we’ll receive catcher’s gear, uniforms, equipment bags, bats, balls, gloves, pitching machines, you name it. And just in the nick of time.
In the past 48 hours, PIFB has received 11 new requests for assistance (that’s a new 2 day record). That’s good news because we know the impact on the kids and communities will be huge. That’s bad news because we only have so much equipment to go around.
That’s where the Little League request for help comes in. Today Little League programs from as far away as Washington, California, Texas, Virginia, and Massachusettes have contacted us to let us know that “help is on the way”.
People have often asked me what is the key to Pitch In For Baseball’s success. I can give you the long version or the short version answer. The short version is the quality of our partners and Little League tops that list. Little League believes deeply in our mission and has been with us from Day 1 to help us achieve our goals.
by David Rhode
You remember “lost and found”. It’s the place your mom kept stopping by when you lost your glove or anything else of value. Well Pitch In For Baseball LOVES lost and found. Every youth league has one and there is a hidden treasure of baseball equipment in that pile waiting to find a new home.
If youth leagues did nothing but send us their lost and found than Pitch In For Baseball would need a bigger warehouse. Today Robert Russell, the President of Oxford (PA) Little League dropped off some goodies including their lost and found equipment. Gloves, bats, batting helmets, you name it.
Next time you think of how your league can help PIFB, ask where your lost and found stuff is kept and if it would be ok to send it to us.
by David Rhode
Today I had the opportunity to “lecture” to business students at Temple University. Temple is a wonderful state school in the heart of Philadelphia. My dad went there, so I’ve always had a soft spot for TU.
The setting for the entrepreneurship class was simple. I was to sit in front of a group of students and tell the Pitch In For Baseball story. I’ve told it countless times and it takes little rehearsing for me to do my standup routine. That said, it never gets old. Retracing the steps the organization undertook in its early days and fast forwarding through to today gives me a chance to realize how far we’ve come in seven years, the obstacles we’ve overcome, and the successful outcomes we’ve had a chance to be a part of.
I’m always delighted to see how people respond to our organization and the questions that come to curious minds when confronted with our challenges. I’m energized by the interest people have in our story and flattered by their desire to get involved. What a great day.
Go Owls and Go Pitch In For Baseball!
by Tom Schoenfelder
When an application comes in, it is always interesting to see where they are applying from. We will get requests from areas as close as Philadelphia and as far away as the other side of the world in the Philippines. Even though every program is different culturally and have different equipment needs, there is one commonality between them. The dedicated individual applying for the equipment.
Be it a coach, league president, or volunteer, those who apply for the equipment care about their players. They work tirelessly to make the season happen. When the hurdle of needing equipment comes up, Pitch In For Baseball is happy to step up with the donation of equipment.
In the case of the North Trenton Babe Ruth league, in Trenton, NJ, that hard-working individual is Robert White. A year ago I had a phone conversation with Robert White after he applied for equipment. What I heard on the other side of the phone was a man who had a passion for the kids in his league playing baseball. We were able to help with a variety of equipment his league needed. Over the past year it was encouraging to hear from him the impact the equipment made on his league.
In the 2012 their mission of the North Trenton league has not changed. They continue to provide a safe place for children to learn and play baseball. When they applied for equipment this year, I knew that this years donation will again help kids enjoy the game I loved to play growing up.
by David Rhode
Tomorrow 2 pallets of equipment will leave our warehouse and begin the journey to Colombia, South America. This marks the 4th such time we’ve provided assistance to the Little League programs in Colombia and nothing makes us prouder.
If you watch enough movies or tv, you might know about towns like Medellin or Cartegena. They are towns where drugs and violence rule the day. Lucky for the kids who live there, Ana Florencia Pineros is helping to change that. Ana is the Little League country manager in Colombia. She’s as committed a volunteer as you could find in the Little League family and she is helping to make sure kids in towns thoughout her country have positive and safe opportunities like baseball in their lives.
Ana has personally sponsored several of the shipments of equipment benefitting the kids in Colombia. One particular success story that Ana shared with us related to the region of Guajira. The Indian population who lives there face extreme poverty. The concept of organized sports is well beyond their means. The donations Pitch In For Baseball have provided now make the dream of baseball a reality in this region. Likewise, girls in other parts of Colombia who used to rely on cardboard “gloves” now have real mitts and and bats to start a league of their own.
The history of baseball in Colombia is not a rich one. A few Major League players of note have come from this beautiful country better known for coffee than curve balls. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if a PIFB alum from Colombia made their way onto the baseball big stage in the future. And if that happens, you’ll know that Ana and your friends at Pitch In For Baseball will be smiling.
by David Rhode
While it may seem a little early to be proclaiming postseason awards, this one is a shoe in. Justin Briant is Pitch In For Baseball’s 2012 MVV…Most Valuable Volunteer.
Many non profit organizations will say that “volunteers are the backbone of our organization”. Well, when you ship equipment to dozens of countries around the world and over a hundred communities domestically each year with just 2 full-time staff people, than you better have some awesome volunteers. Thankfully, we do.
Justin is the kind of person who motivates me and gives me confidence that Pitch In For Baseball is truly a special cause worth supporting. He has caught the Pitch In For Baseball bug and apparently he is in no danger of getting over it any time soon. Justin is a high school senion in Edina, Minnesota. He has singlehandedly help launch PIFB’s Minneapolis branch of the organization and has helped well over 1,000 kids in his area gain access to baseball and softball through the equipment he has helped collect and distribute.
Justin has helped fan the flames of the need to collect equipment among youth baseball organizations in his and neighboring towns; worked side by side with PIFB Board President Roy Smalley III to raise awareness for our mission; volunteered at Target Field when the Twins help Pitch In For Baseball collect equipment; spent many a night or weekend meeting prospective donors to help receive their donated goods; and helped organize and maintain donated warehouse space first in a downtown facility and now in his family’s garage.
In one more case of the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Justin’s dad Tom has been a huge advocate for Pitch In For Baseball…first supporting Justin’s various collection initiatives and then lately reaching out to members of his professional network to raise funds for our organization.
So, when you hear that volunteers are the backbone of our organization, think of Justin and the entire Briant Family and know that Pitch In For Baseball has already set the bar high to be our MVV for 2013.
by Tom Schoenfelder
Growing up all I ever wanted to be was a professional baseball player, then I realized that you needed a lot talent. Unemployed and living in my parents basement after college was far from what I expected life would be like when I graduated. I was told that finding a job would be very difficult, but I didn’t think it applied to me. After striking out at numerous job interviews and still out of work, I received some of the best advice of my life from my brother.
Having a gap in my resume does not look good and I should volunteer. So when I’m asked what I have done recently, I can say something other than reaching level 50 in Call of Duty. I began tutoring and helping out at local non-profits. While looking for volunteer opportunities on a website, I came across a job posting.
It combined that love of baseball with the helping aspect of a non-profit. I knew that I had to work for Pitch In For Baseball. Company after company told me that my resume was not good enough and that I needed more experience. I knew all I needed was a chance.
Before heading off to the Pitch In For Baseball interview I created a portfolio in a three ring binder that had my resume and all the projects I’ve worked on as a college student. I confidently left the interview and drove the hour and half back to New Jersey.
A week later I received a phone call from David Rhode, executive director and founder of Pitch In For Baseball. I was expecting to hear the “its not you, its that we found someone better” speech. Instead I heard, “would you like to be the Operations Manager?”. If he offered me the janitor position I probably would have still taken it. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, happy to go to work because I know that the baseball equipment I am helping to donate is putting smiles on kids faces all around the world.
by David Rhode
Yesterday I met Babe Ruth. Not that Babe Ruth.
The Babe Ruth I spent the afternoon with was the fine team that runs Babe Ruth Baseball in Trenton, New Jersey.
Pitch In For Baseball has the pleasure of working with a number of outstanding organizations. Little League International, USA Baseball, Major League Baseball’s RBI program, the Major League Baseball Players Association just to name a few. In the last year or so, we have also begun to work very closely with Babe Ruth Baseball.
About 1 million kids play in Babe Ruth affiliated youth leagues annually in the U.S. The leader of Babe Ruth Baseball is Steven Tellefsen. Steven’s an down-to-earth guy with a big heart and a strong desire to give kids the chance to play ball. Maybe that’s why he’s taken such an interest in Pitch In For Baseball. We share the same goals and vision.
When separate floods struck the communities of Ludlow, VT and Minot, ND and in 2011 Steven asked us if there was anything we could do to help. Our answer was an immediate “yes”. He then wrote a heartfelt letter to the Babe Ruth leagues around the country and asked them to contribute $ and equipment to our organization to fuel our efforts to help these decimated communities. The response was impressive to say the least.
This past month, we delivered our equipment to Vermont and in a month or so the equipment for Minot will be on its way. It doesn’t take much to keep Tom Schoenfelder and I motivated at Pitch In For Baseball. The fine folks of Ludlow paid us in smiles and maple syrup. Not sure how or if Minot could ever top that.
So here’s to Babe Ruth. The young people playing youth baseball with the Babe Ruth patch on their uniforms and the fine team at Babe Ruth Baseball in Trenton are making sure that name will live on forever.
by David Rhode
Tonight is a Pitch In For Baseball Board of Directors meeting. If my math is close to correct, this will be our 43rd such meeting since our inception. Nothing magical about the number, it’s just that it gives me pause to think back to our very first meeting as an organization.
The date was September 20, 2005. Unlike now when we actually can have meetings in our conference room of our office/warehouse, in those days we met around my dining room table. My wife and kids and pets scattered. I set out some food. We had an agenda and off we went.
The start of anything is exciting. As a group, we really had no idea what to expect when we “opened our doors” for business. At the time we had just a concept and a name. Pitch In For Baseball. No website…no equipment…no money…just some friends and I trying to see if we could launch a baseball charity.
The backdrop of the meeting was that the country was going through a very emotional time. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had just hit the Gulf Coast region within the last month. While the original focus of our organization was intended to be on international assistance, we knew immediately that our initial focus should be on getting kids in that region back on the field of play.
We set a goal to assist 3 programs in 2006. We had no idea what that really meant since we hadn’t really defined what a donation would consist of, but 3 has always been my lucky number so 3 it was. In reality, we accomplished much more, bringing much needed resources to 16 programs here in the US and around the world. More than half that assistance went to communities in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.
The growth over the last 6 years has been extremely rewarding. We now work as partners with Little League International, USA Baseball, Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, Babe Ruth Baseball and the list goes on. We’ve shipped equipment to over 70 countries worldwide and over 250 communities here in the United States.
We’ve reached some important conclusions during this time frame.
- Helping kids play baseball matters.
- Bringing joy to kids never gets old.
- We have a lot more work to do.
We invite you to join us in that effort. Visit us at Pitch In For Baseball and join our team. Our work is fun, it’s important and you can make a difference.