Who wants to help youth baseball and disadvantaged kids in Syracuse?

Update June 26: Sean wrote an additional column this morning about some of the stuff below.

The wheels in my head got to turning early Friday morning. I'm excited about the possibilities of this, so I thought I'd write something up, see what you people think, and see if you have any ideas for me as to who needs to be involved from an administration level.

What started me thinking was Sean Kirst's column, which includes a bit about losing kids who started in youth baseball to the streets after they got priced out of playing. Sean told me in an email that sometimes the leagues just eat the sign-up fees for some kids in that situation, but I happen to know from playing in softball leagues that those sign-up fees help maintain the fields; I've played in enough of those leagues to know who is using the money for maintenance and who's using the money for repairs, and if the city is getting less money from sign-up fees in some neighborhoods than in others, guess whose fields are going to crap?

We first need to be honest with ourselves about youth opportunities in Syracuse. This goes way beyond Say Yes and the fact that anyone can benefit from an education and take that to stellar heights in a career. That's true. But. If you're the sort of kid who loves baseball and your family is in a position that financially they can't sign you up for little league, your income level is such that there are times your parents are making choices between feeding you, feeding themselves, paying rent, paying the electric bill and so on. You can't work until you're 16, and even then, another 20 hours a week at minimum wage isn't going to help all that much – and let's be honest, if you're working 20 hours a week, school is suffering.

There's an easy decision to be made, and that's why a lot of kids wind up on the street, running guns and drugs. It's not that they're lazy, it's that they're actually trying to help, and this is an obvious way to make a big impact on your family's financial future.

The Future Fund just gave a $5,000 grant to The Media Unit, a group that writes and performs pieces about issues facing underserved youth in the city, and the group has most definitely helped a lot of people; we hope that grant will help them grow and help more people.

Baseball's another way through. Keep kids playing, get them into college on a baseball scholarship. Awesome. But first we have to get them into those leagues. That got me thinking about an indiegogo campaign. You might know about indiegogo as the tool someone is using to raise money for Karen Klein, the Greece, NY, bus monitor who last week was seen on YouTube being tormented by kids on her bus. At this writing, a campaign started to raise $5,000 for a nice vacation for her has raised over $620,000.

At indiegogo, you put a goal on your campaign. If you hit your goal, indiegogo takes 4% for using their platform; if you don't, they take 9%. Those are definitely reasonable fees.

What if we started a fund there? It could be administered by some little league activists, someone at the city, someone at the Chiefs, or by another organization who just wants to show their support. Would you give $10 or $50 or $100 to such a fund to keep some kids in youth sports?

What do you think? Who needs to be in on it?

American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure

Yesterday, a few of us from Civic Engagement volunteered at the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Diabetes isn't one of my primary causes, but my employer is a national sponsor, so I had easy access to the organizers.

This is a really great event. Rather than a "simple" run or walk or ride, it's five rides – a 100-miler, a 62.5-miler, a 40-miler, a 25-miler and a 15-miler. It requires volunteers at many stages and a whole lot of planning.

From our perspective, it went as smoothly as we could imagine. We got bad directions to the rest stop we were supposed to run, but got there and set up before the first riders came in. We were missing some supplies, but our radio operator (yes, they have someone operating short-wave radios at each stop, in trail vehicles and at the home base) managed to get in touch with home base to get us the stuff we needed in time.

I didn't look up the numbers (the amount raised or the number of people involved), but it was impressive. If you're looking for a way to get involved, I highly recommend the event.

Syracuse Peace Council Birthday Dinner

This comes to me by way of the Alchemical Nursery and the Syracuse Peace Council. The Peace Council's dinner is this coming Saturday, the 25th.


The Syracuse Peace Council will be holding their 74th birthday dinner this coming Saturday Sept 25th, 6pm at St Lucy's on the Near Westside in Syracuse.

SPC is a great organization here in Syracuse, and a group with much affinity to Alchemical.

The dinner will feature retired Col. Ann Wright, the highest ranking officer to resign in protest of the US invasion of Iraq. Ann Wright also helped to reopen the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001. For the past 7 years, she has been a tireless activist for peace - showing up everywhere a person of conscience might be needed. She traveled to Iran on a citizen diplomacy delegation, returned to Afghanistan in 2009 with a study group, joined the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza in 2010, and in September she will be an expert witness for the "Creech 14" trial of nonviolent activists protesting the Drones.

Sliding scale donation: $15-74

Make reservations ASAP to guarantee your place at the dinner! Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis.

6:00 PM - doors open, appetizers
6:30 PM - Dinner is served (featuring Middle Eastern cuisine, all dishes are vegetarian or vegan)
7:30 PM - Program

Ann Wright is is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" and one of the featured portraits in artist Roberty Shetterly's "Americans Who Tell the Truth" series (on exhibit at the ArtRage Gallery while Ann is in town, check their website for details on the September 26th book signing!).

Contact Jessica (315-472-5478, jessica@peacecouncil.net) to make your reservations, or make online reservations at www.peacecouncil.net/bday.

Say Yes seeks volunteers

Cross-posted from 40 Below Civic Engagement.

Please help us celebrate; it's time to highlight the many positive ways young people are impacting our community!

Approximately 1800 "Say Yes to Education" summer camp students will demonstrate new skills they have learned, talents they have developed and creativity they have unleashed throughout their 2010 "Say Yes" summer camp experiences at the Say Yes Summer Festival Wednesday, July 28th at Thornden Park.

We have a tremendous need for many volunteers to ensure a fun, safe, and successful event for our campers and their families!

Whether it's set up or break down, assisting in the information tent, or helping with an activity, we could use whatever time and effort you have available. Set up will begin at 7 AM, event will run from 9-2 and break down of the event will promptly follow.

We are specifically looking for corporate, community based organizations and other not-for-profit volunteer teams!

For more information contact Monica Richardson of Prevention Network at 315-471-1359, or log onto www.sayyessyracuse.org and follow the Summer Festival Link.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

Volunteers needed for event in Oswego this weekend

The H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego seeks volunteers for the Festival of Sail June 25-27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to cover the following positions:

• Site Guides - LT-5, Canal Boat, Main Museum Building
• Shop Assistants
• Runners
• Craft assistants, children’s activities, storytellers
• Crowd Control
• Security
• Parking & Traffic Control
• Gate Admissions
• Stage Assistants
• And more!

Call or email the Museum office if you have any questions! info@hleewhitemarinemuseum.com 342-0480

American Diabetes Association Seeks Board Member

This is cross-posted from the 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force blog. What strikes me about this board position is that the metrics are well-defined. You don't just have to show up to meetings and generally support and promote the organization. If you can't raise $1,500, you're responsible for donating it, etc.


Position Name: Leadership Board – at large member
Job Summary: The Leadership Board–Corporate Development member provides access to resources or constituents important to accomplishment of ADA’s mission
Reporting Line: Position reports to Chair/President of the Board
Time Commitment: 4 hours per month from Sept. 1, 2010 – Dec. 31, 2010; Two year term, repeatable for up to 2 years
Corp Recruitment member is responsible for:

  • Understanding the American Diabetes Association’s mission and programs
  • Attending the local Leadership Board, which meets 4 per year
  • Securing financial and/or volunteer support from the community and/or own company
  • Utilize community contacts to support priority events

Raising Dollar Commitment:

  • Market's financial goal for the fiscal year is $.5 million
  • Raise or personally contribute $1,500 or locate a corporate sponsor(s) of equal value
  • Generate support from own company or organization for priority fund-raising events; i.e., Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes and The Tour de Cure.
  • Participate in at least one fund-raising event and serve on one Executive Committee

Recruiting Volunteers Commitment:

  • Recommending an assisting in recruitment of potential event or committee member throughout the year
  • Use existing relationships to leverage opportunities and open doors to support ADA in reaching its market's goals
  • Identify at least one non-participating company and create access for ADA

Reaching People Commitment:

  • Participate in at least one program/advocacy event
  • Work to create relationships with new corporations

Candidate Profile:

  • Lives or works in the board area
  • Possesses resources and contacts that can help impact the success of the local ADA

Staff Resources:

Director: Tom Czajak (315) 438-8687 x3666, tczajak@diabetes.org

Some Facts About Diabetes

» Total: 23.6 million children and adults in the United States—7.8% of the population—have diabetes.
» Diagnosed: 17.9 million people
» Undiagnosed: 5.7 million people
» Pre-diabetes: 57 million people
» New Cases: 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older each year.

Onondaga Historical Association seeks volunteers

Cross-posted from 40 Below Civic Engagement:

The Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) is looking for volunteers on Saturday, June 12th from either 10AM-1PM or 1PM-4PM. The OHA is planning a mansions & gardens self-guided tour of the historic Piercefield Neighborhood of Solvay. We need volunteers to welcome guests at each property. For appreciation of your time, we offer you a comp reservation, snack, and water. You may take the self-guided tour before or after your shift. Please contact Adrienne Kelley, Director of Development at the OHA at (315) 428-1864 Ext 314 or email adrienne.kelley@cnyhistory.org.

Involvement Fair 4 heads downtown May 27


40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force Brings Fourth Involvement Fair Downtown
Event to bring together non-profit organizations and volunteers across Central New York

Syracuse, NY — The 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force is pleased to announce the fourth Central New York Involvement Fair, Thursday, May 27 from 4 until 7:30 p.m. at SUNY Oswego Metro Center, 2 Clinton Square, Syracuse. The fair will be followed by a networking event hosted by Syracuse First at Al's Wine & Whiskey, 321 S. Clinton St., Syracuse..

The Involvement Fair is a place for local volunteers to find non-profits to become involved with. Picture a job fair, but instead of company recruiters sitting behind tables collecting resumes from nervous students, the tables are staffed by passionate non-profit volunteers or employees, and the people walking around are local residents looking to engage in their communities.

The first three involvement fairs, held at Drivers Village, Le Moyne College and Pensabene's, have been hugely successful for area agencies and organizations, and bringing the event downtown will only mean easier access for more area residents.

There is a nominal table charge for non-profits (RSVP required), and the event is free to attend for anyone looking for volunteer opportunities (no RSVP needed).

The networking event at Al's, hosted by local non-profit organization Syracuse First, will feature food and drink specials for Involvement Fair vendors and attendees with name badges. The event is free to attend.

Local media outlets, non-profit organizations and anyone wishing to attend are invited to contact Civic Engagement Task Force co-chairs Kelly Bayne and Josh Shear at the information below. The task force website is 40bcetf.org.

Kelly Bayne: baynek@gmail.com
Josh Shear: joshuanshear@gmail.com

It’s about engagement

Listen to the words of this song; try to get by the violence in the video. I've gone with this video rather than a live recording because it's official and I know the way this label works with artists, and I trust this video is the artist's vision. What I hear in Michael Franti's "Rock the Nation" is taking responsibility for moving things forward in a positive direction. I advocate non-violence.

I was elected Monday night to co-chair of the Civic Engagement Task Force, a piece of 40 Below I've been involved with since it re-launched in October of 2007. It's a two-year volunteer role, and it's a challenge I look forward to.

These are the primary things the task force does.

The Involvement Fair. At least once a year – sometimes twice – the task force hosts an involvement fair. If you're familiar with the concept of a job fair – candidates with resumes walking around talking to a bunch of companies who have paid for tables and sent their HR teams out – this will look familiar. Except the people at the tables are outreach officers or volunteers of local non-profits, and the people walking around aren't bringing resumes, they're looking for a way to connect with the community.

Connecting people to board opportunities. The task force works with volunteer organizations who are looking for board members to find people in the community who fit their needs.

Introducing people to each other and to organizations in the area. We meet monthly in various locations, and frequently have a speaker introducing an organization she or he is involved in. It's a great way to get to know who's out there.

Here's my challenge to you. Where do you see a need in the city? What push do you need to get involved? How can we help you? Get in touch in comments.