September 30, 2014

Clemente’s spirit remains alive with Roberto’s Kids

February 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

In 2010, 35 tons of donated baseball equipment went to communities in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Native American reservations in South Dakota.  Bats, balls, gloves, socks and every item necessary to play the game found its way to needy neighborhoods. This was all part of a collaborative effort headed by Steve Pindar, the founder of Roberto’s Kids.

With hubs found in 14 States and in Canada, Roberto’s Kids relies upon volunteers to collect equipment for the underprivileged all in the name of baseball and social responsibility. The following is taken from the foundation’s website.

Kids playing baseball in the Dominican Republic

The Development of Social Responsibility – The Role of Baseball

What baseball will come to mean is the farthest thing in a young child’s mind when walking toward the field to play his first baseball game.  Clean uniform, matching cap, glove securely attached to one small hand while the other clasps the palm of his father’s giant hand.

A father’s glowing pride and knowing smile understands that while they walk on to the field together they are beginning a journey of learning to come together for the greater good.

Steve Pindar walked that journey twice in his life when both his sons started playing baseball.  The life lessons they learned together are a significant part of the foundation of Roberto’s Kids and The Pindar Family’s focus on community and social responsibility.

A league in the Dominican Republic started with donations from Roberto's Kids

In the game of baseball winning isn’t everything.  All socio-economic barriers are removed on this field of dreams.  Team members, one uniform and great pride translates into a strong sense of family and community.

What young athletes learn in those exciting moments during the game is that you can’t play a baseball game alone.  If you’re a great pitcher, someone else needs to hit the ball.  If you’re the 2nd baseman, someone has to run the base line for you to work your magic.

Baseball, grounded in the rich tradition of sportsmanship and leadership, teaches respect and responsibility.  In order to be responsible to the team you first have to be responsible to yourself.   Respect yourself first and then others.  As young boys grow with the game they become role models and leaders for the young boys that will follow them.  Respectful competition pushes young men to break records and earn positions on their team.   They practice together in order to play together in order to win together.  Together they are more.

The skills a young boy needs to possess to be a vital part of his team are the same skills he needs to be a vital part of his community.  He must recognize and accept the consequences of the actions and decisions he undertakes (Character, Leadership, Integrity).  He must hold a caring attitude towards himself and others (Respect and Responsibility).  He learns a strong sense of control and competence, and learns to recognize and accept individuality and cultural diversity (Sportsmanship).

Growing up with baseball cultivates openness to new ideas, experiences and people.   Together, as a team, the importance of volunteering in social and community activities becomes part of the season and leads to a higher development of leadership, sense of community, and social skills.

Roberto Walker Clemente, Jr., Lisa Pindar, Vera Clemente, Stephen Pindar, Luis Roberto Clemente

Youth baseball organizations strive to develop and maintain a strong connection to their communities.  Ongoing goals and visions are to be an enduring source of pride not only for the athletes, but also for families and the community.

One of the ways Roberto’s Kids develops and nurtures social and community responsibility internationally is by partnering with volunteers in their local communities.

Bernie Kelleher, a Collection Hub Coordinator in Virginia Beach, Virginia recently passed the baton after two years of managing our organization’s efforts in his local community. (Bernie’s family is being transferred to Belgium by Lockheed Martin.)  The Kelleher Family became an important part of our organization and held a commitment to see what they had built and developed, at a local level, continue even though they needed to move on.

Bernie’s words are the very core of our program impact, “This program has been one of my life’s most rewarding experiences because it has instilled an ethic of community service in my children.”

Collection Drives amass equipment and uniforms that are distributed into 3rd World Countries. Volunteers are building and developing organized baseball (through their donations) in parts of the world where there is no sense of community.

Steve Pindar and his family watched baseball played by children in the Dominican Republic using broomsticks for bats, rocks for bases and balls made of rolled-up cloth from discarded dress hems.  Poor substitutes for real equipment.

Roberto’s Kids Program Headquarters is in Oneonta, NY, home of the Oneonta Little League Association, where Pindar coached baseball while both his sons grew up with the game.

In April of 1999 the Oneonta Little League Association was cleaning out their Press Box at Doc Knapp Field and offered their old and unused uniforms and equipment to Pindar.  Oneonta Little League does not charge a fee for their youth athletes to play baseball.  It was natural for the association to extend that philosophy by donating their old and used equipment where it would travel to the Dominican Republic to be distributed.

Distributing equipment at a baseball field in Central America

The original donation established several new baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic where youth are now playing baseball in uniform with real bats and balls and, as importantly, established a baseball equipment collection program in the Pindar’s garage.  The program outgrew the garage overtaking the basement of their home until there was no alternative but to expand into a storage unit.

In the Fall of 2005, through Dale Petrosky, former President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Pindar connected with Steve Tremitiere who had collected equipment that he sent to Cuidad Deportiva [Sports City] the Clemente Family Sports Complex in Puerto Rico.  Pindar invited Tremitiere to join forces with him to allow both programs to expand their impact.

In April 2009, 10 years after several boxes were lined up along the side wall of the Pindar Family garage, there are Collections Hubs across the nation, Volunteer Program Coordinators focused on local efforts in their regions and thousands of volunteers in 30 States across the United States and 3 Provinces in Canada demonstrating community and social responsibility in many forms.

At Roberto’s Kids, our global reach and leadership bridges the gap between different cultures.  We focus on sustainable impact while our volunteers focus on community service results that will endure.  Either way you say it, the meaning is the same.  Everyone is about making a difference in the lives of others.

Scores of program participants, groups and organizations across the United States and Canada have contributed their hands and their hearts – all in a collective effort to transform communities, and ultimately, lives.  We accomplish this day in and day out by delivering youth in 3rd World Countries and their families the opportunity to allow the game of baseball to lead them through the process of learning and developing social and community responsibility.

Social and Community Responsibility comes in many forms.  The stronger we are the better we serve.  The greater our drive, the closer our ties as partners. We see this kind of motivation and devotion throughout our family of program participants and it is the driving force that allows us all, together, to take the power and possibilities of community energy and enterprise and make an impact wherever it lands.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.”  Roberto Clemente

Interested parties can make a difference by clicking on this link.

Comments

One Response to “Clemente’s spirit remains alive with Roberto’s Kids”
  1. Kathleen says:

    I remember vividly the shock everyone in the baseball community felt when we heard the news of Roberto’s plane crash. Baseball players have a great tradition of giving back to their communities. Unfortunately the media prefers to focus on the occational scandals rather than the overwhelming good that baseball players and ownership provide. Thanks for spotlighting this valuable program.

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