A Very Special White Sox Service Day
Saturday, May 9, 2009
A Day Well Spent
So today was our very first Service Day for the White Sox Volunteer Corps (see whitesox.com for more information on the Corps and how to sign up).
Over 400 volunteers, members of the Sox front office, staff and players were joined by Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Richard Daley and other dignitaries at the 10 am kickoff in Lot C at U.S. Cellular Field.
After introductions, a pep talk and a group photo, everyone boarded yellow school buses for the short trips to Valentine Boys & Girls Club and the B&G Club in the basement of Holy Angels School (yes, those were your White Sox players jumping on the buses with the volunteers).
Broken down into work “teams,” once at the site each team started working on their task. My family and I were in the Art Room at Valentine along with the other members of Team 4. Our charge was to paint benches with famous quotes by notables and then work on other art to brighten the Art Room. Other teams were charged with things like painting and decorating the Game Room, the locker rooms and the Gym. Others built benches and cubbies (although we try not to refer to them by tha name) for the kids. Still others painted hand rails, doors and colorful motifs on the walls of the Dance Room and Gym.
I focused, along my new friend Juan, on painting an image of President Obama (fitting given his motivation for us creating this Corps in the first place) and the word “Progress” on a six foot-long bench back. A one-time art student (left-handed, what can you say), I was pretty proud of the final product. Then it was on to another sign, this one for the Club itself.
For those who have never spent a day or an afternoon volunteering, the reward is amazing. Thanks to all the hard advance work of City Year and Care Force, we walked in today to basically finish all of their prep work. With each team working independently, you don’t have a sense of what the entire project has accomplished until the very end when you have a chance to see everything come together as you walk around the facility. The sense of accomplishment, the sense of pride in what you hve done, and the thought of seeing those kids’ faces on Monday when they enter the Club after school just leaves you with a warm feeling of making a difference.
So many volunteers stopped me to introduce themselves and thank the organization for creating the Corps and today’s project. It really made me proud of the White Sox and proud of Sox fans.
Just in my team, we had a family of three who came in large part because the son was a devoted fan. We had Juan, a 30-something who proudly said his room at home looks like a 12 year olds because of all of his Sox stuff.
Another family worked on benches of Nelson Mandela (showing his prisoner number) and a quote from Dr. King. My wife and daughter finished a quote from Miles Davis reading, “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
I heard that many of our players stayed and helped. Bullpen catcher Mark Salas, an accomplished plumber and electrician, stayed and worked hard for two hours. Others, like Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzynski and Gavin Floyd, sat down and painted with fans.
If I can pull it off, I will add a few photos from the day at the end of this post …
Needless to say, it was a great day to be a Sox fan — even before a pitch was ever thrown. People already were asking about the next project, and plans are underway. Stay tuned and we will announce as soon as it is finalized. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for the Volunteer Corps, visit whitesox.com or click here.
Special thanks to Christine O’Reilly, our Sr. Director of Community Relations, and her staff for pulling this tremendous event together. Thanks, as well, to City Year and Care Force for their expertise and preparations. And thanks to our sponsors. Without their support, the food, drink, buses and supplies would not have been available.
So here is my attempt to paste images of the day …