On Thursday, May 18, YouthBuild Boston (YBB) partnered with Starbucks to provide a day of service to the Lower Roxbury and South End neighborhoods. The day consisted of two parts: improvements to Ramsay Park’s Jim Rice Field in the morning and a Job to Career Resource Fair in the evening for local youth.
The crew started their service early in the morning of a scorching, 95 degree day at Jim Rice Field. The field is a community mainstay on Washington Street in Lower Roxbury, which serves as a venue for youth and adult leagues and as a community gathering place for pick-up games. Originally built in 1999, it is modeled after Fenway Park, complete with a brick entrance wall and a “Green Monster” outfield fence; however, until the service day, the field lacked fence casing, adequate seating, and outfield distance markers.
The team, composed of Starbucks volunteers and YBB staff and trainees, worked throughout the day and got a lot accomplished: benches for the dugout, picnic tables for fans and park goers, fence casing, outfield distance markers, a new bullpen for pitchers, and fence casing. Brad Presler, from the South End Baseball league, commented on the effect the project has had on the field: “The first full day with the picnic tables, benches, fence topper, and distance signs at Jim Rice Field, the tables were full, a player crushed a homerun over the 320 sign, and there were 3 plays involving players at the fence trying to make plays at or over it that they wouldn't have dared to do before in fear of injuring themselves. In the past we've had to tell the teams playing to keep players not in the game in the dugouts for their safety. We have had to do this far less now because the benches have created more room for players to be safe while not on defense and while preparing for their next game.”
Trainees, staff, and volunteers also felt a sense of fulfillment in giving back to the community. Nathan Polk, a project manager for YBB’s Building Trades Explorations program who played at the Jim Rice growing up, spoke about the event: “When I was young, it was so cool to play at a place that felt like Fenway Park. It was great to revisit those feelings while fixing up the park - and an even cooler feeling to fix it up with people I care about.”
The event consisted of two parts; in the afternoon, there was also a Job to Career Resource Fair. Starbucks employees gave a resume and interview workshop for local youth to hone the skills they need to get a job at the YBB Designery. In addition, YBB, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Starbucks, and St. Stephens Youth Programs put on a job fair for local youth at the community room at the Mandela Homes on Washington Street. The event turned to be a terrific chance for youth in the community to come together to get training on how to get a job and have the chance to apply for opportunities.
The event was a great success, and YBB would like to first and foremost thank Starbucks for helping to improve Jim Rice Field and providing resources to the local community. We would also like to thank the Mandela Homes for being gracious enough to provide a venue for the resource fair. Lastly, we would like to thank ABCD and St. Stephen’s for providing opportunities for youth at the fair.