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Yankees in the Community

The Mission

Nominate someone you know for recognition
during HOPE Week 2014!
Nominate Now
Girardi and President Obama

During an April 26, 2010, White House ceremony honoring the team's 2009 World Series championship, President Barack Obama publicly recognized the Yankees' HOPE Week initiative.

Introduced in 2009 and heading into its sixth year in 2014, the Yankees' HOPE Week initiative (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.

On each of five consecutive days during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Each day is designed so honorees can share their inspirational stories with Yankees players, fans and the media, while being surprised with the day of their dreams. Though each day's celebration ultimately culminates with a visit to Yankee Stadium on the day of a game, outreach typically takes place at a location in the community that symbolizes the accomplishments of the honoree.

At its core, HOPE Week is about people helping people. The one thing everybody has - no matter where they come from, what their financial situation is or what kind of skills they possess - is time. By involving every one of our players and coaches, Manager Joe Girardi, General Manager Brian Cashman and the entire front office staff during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place.

Equally significant during HOPE Week is garnering publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.


United We Serve - Serve.gov

Since 2010, the Yankees have partnered with the White House's United We Serve initiative, raising awareness of the President's call for Americans to become more involved in community service. The Yankees encourage fans to visit Serve.gov to find volunteer opportunities in their communities.

Implementing the Initiative

The Yankees' HOPE Week initiative is an organizational effort, integrating players, coaches, the Yankees front office, dozens of sponsors and some of New York's most iconic social and corporate institutions.

This year will mark the third consecutive year in which the Yankees' six U.S.-based affiliates will each hold their own HOPE Weeks, truly making this initiative one that the entire organization stands behind in words and in action.

The initial phase of HOPE Week planning involves the selection of the honorees. In order to draw on the most diverse and inspiring group possible, an online nomination form is made available to the public on yankees.com. Additionally, the Yankees Media Relations Department reviews general fan mail and independently reaches out to other public social institutions to find exceptional individuals to recognize.

HOPE Week is designed to be an event that fans look forward to every year. Throughout the five-day stretch of games, the HOPE Week narrative is woven into the Yankees' on-field activities. Honorees are treated like members of the team, joining players and coaches next to the hitting cage during batting practice and on the field after victories for celebratory high fives. They also participate in traditional pregame festivities, including ceremonial first pitches and the exchange of team lineup cards. Most importantly, all are given a platform to tell their inspiring stories in their own voices.

As is the HOPE Week tradition, all celebrants from prior years are invited back to celebrate with current honorees. The gesture of returning to give back where they once received symbolizes what HOPE Week aspires to be.


President's Volunteer Service Award
YANKEES RECEIVE PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD

At the conclusion of the last four Yankees HOPE Weeks from 2010-13, the Yankees (2010), the Steinbrenner family (2011), the Yankees' minor league affiliates (2012), and the Yankees HOPE Week Initiative (2013) have each been honored with the President's Volunteer Service Award, given "in recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening the nation and for making a difference through volunteer service." The awards were bestowed by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which implements the President's Call to Service.

Click here to see the Presidential Certificate Awarded to the Steinbrenner family.

Click here to see the Presidential Certificate Awarded to the Yankees.

Click here to see the letter from President Obama to the Yankees.

The Impact

Each of the five honorees during HOPE Week is given a day of their dreams, complete with surprise elements involving Yankees players, dignitaries and celebrities. Throughout the entire process, local, national and international media are given the opportunity to film, record and report on events to allow for comprehensive storytelling over a complete range of media platforms. The goal is to give these exemplary individuals the largest possible audience to hear their inspirational messages.

All events are designed to generate attention and raise the profile of serious social issues affecting our nation and the world. Beyond getting these stories into the mainstream media, the Yankees organization looks to reward honorees for their fortitude in the face of adversity.

The attention that HOPE Week has brought to different causes and charities has changed lives permanently for the better. Within three weeks of being honored during the 2011 celebration, Daniel's Music Foundation was able to increase the number of students in its programs from 150 to 250, allowing 100 additional disabled men, women and children in New York City to receive free therapeutic music instruction. HOPE Week 2010 honoree Mohamed Kamara, who less than 10 years ago was foraging through the forests of war-torn Sierra Leone to provide food for his family, enjoyed a paid internship at the New York Stock Exchange in the summer of 2011 in recognition of his remarkable story.

The Yankees are proud that the Minnesota Twins have been inspired to hold their own HOPE Week the last three seasons. Other organizations and community groups, including the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and Dittman Incentive Marketing, have also begun similar HOPE-themed projects to honor heroes in their respective communities.


Direct Giving

The Yankees made the following donations to HOPE Week honorees in 2013:

Monday:
Rockaway Special Athletes ($5,000); St. Camillus-St. Virgilius Parish ($2,500); and St. Rose of Lima School ($2,500).

Tuesday:
Ronald McDonald House New York ($5,000); Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare ($5,000)

Wednesday:
New Beginning Animal Rescue ($10,000)

Thursday:
Birthday Wishes ($10,000)

Friday:
Stand for the Silent ($10,000)


2013 HOPE Week Honorees

Monday, July 8
THE STORY OF ROCKAWAY SPECIAL ATHLETES (RSA)
ROCKAWAY SPECIAL ATHLETES

In 1996, Joe Featherston, then a physical education teacher at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens, was asked to prepare a group of Special Olympians for a track meet at St. John's University. He gladly accepted and used the opportunity to involve students from his high school to assist with the once-a-week coaching sessions.

His work with the Olympians made him realize that children with disabilities, along with their families, could derive great benefits from having a regular physical and social outlet to take part in. He reached out to now-retired Father James Dunne of St. Camillus-St. Virgilius Parish (SCSVP) in Rockaway Park to see if there were parishioners who wanted to become involved in a weekly gathering for children with disabilities. That fall, the group held its first meeting with eight athletes and six volunteers, and Rockaway Special Athletes was born.

Last October the SCSVP gym was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully nearby St. Rose of Lima School generously offered their space to the group until SCSVP can rebuild.

Tuesday, July 9
THE STORY OF AUTUMN BLINN AND "PILLOWS OF LOVE"
PILLOWS OF LOVE

Coping with a hospital stay of any length can be a scary proposition. Autumn Blinn, a 10-year-old from Rome, New York, realized this from spending time with her grandfather, John Santiago, who undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week at their local hospital, Faxton St. Luke’s in Utica.

Last year, when Autumn's grandmother, Shari, taught her to sew, they decided to make a pillow for their first project. When her grandfather saw it, he asked if she could make him a pillow on which to rest his arm during dialysis. After John, a Bronx native, proudly showed off his pillow to other patients, Autumn realized that other dialysis patients could be uplifted by the gift of a pillow.

Without prompting, she dove into making “Pillows of Love” for as many people as possible. Over the last year, she has made approximately 175 pillows for sick children and adults.

Wednesday, July 10
THE STORY OF NEW BEGINNING ANIMAL RESCUE
NEW BEGINNING ANIMAL RESCUE

Dating back to his days growing up in the Dominican Republic, Pedro Rosario has always taken care of animals. It was only natural that his love of animals extended into his professional life, and in 1996, he began a career at New York City Animal Care and Control, rising through the ranks during the course of 16 successful years.

While his work was always intensely rewarding, it was too often filled with heartbreak. New Yorkers brought in a never-ending stream of cats and dogs, but there were never enough adoptive homes to keep up with supply. The time came in 2012 when Rosario thought he could do more good on his own, and he created the not-for-profit New Beginning Animal Rescue (NBAR) in an industrial part of the Castle Hill section of the East Bronx.

Rosario operates NBAR on a shoestring budget, trying to care for up to 80 dogs and 60 cats at any given time. His organization relies solely on donations and adoption fees, and it is almost impossible to cover all of the group's costs.

Thursday, July 11
THE STORY OF BIRTHDAY WISHES
BIRTHDAY WISHES

For parents and children living in homeless shelters, nothing can be taken for granted. Luxuries are entirely out of reach, and the basics are usually the stuff of dreams. That's where Birthday Wishes comes in. The group was founded in November 2002 by Lisa Vasiloff, Karen Yahara and Carol Zwanger-three friends and colleagues who wanted to help homeless children build self-esteem. Having volunteered in several homeless shelters, the trio realized (as they attended their own children's birthday parties) that the birthdays of children living at shelters often went unnoticed and uncelebrated.

Birthday Wishes believes that every child, regardless of their living situation, should have their birthday recognized and celebrated. The organization has found that something as simple and "normal" as a birthday party has the power to provide validation to these children that they are members of society like any "regular kid." Often, these parties allow the children to feel special and give them a rare moment in the sun.

Friday, July 12
THE STORY OF "STAND FOR THE SILENT" (KIRK AND LAURA SMALLEY)
STAND FOR THE SILENT

Ty Smalley was raised in the town of Perkins, just 15 minutes from the campus of Oklahoma State University, in the heart of Payne County. He was smaller than the other children his age and was the subject of unmerciful bullying for years. Deflecting insults, coping with intimidation and suffering violence were part of his daily curriculum. On May 13, 2010, 11-year-old Ty was provoked into a fight at school and suspended. Home early from school and left alone because his parents had to work, he took his own life.

That summer, Ty's story was taken up by local high school students participating in the Oklahoma State University Upward Bound program. Together, they set a goal to end bullying in their respective high schools and began an initiative called "Stand for the Silent."

Past HOPE Week Honorees

For a look back on past year's HOPE Week Honorees, please visit our archives »