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Press Release

06/10/2014 4:57 PM ET
MLB players award $165,250 in grants to Volunteers of America programs nationwide

Major League baseball player LaTroy Hawkins of the Colorado Rockies presented $150,000 in grants from the Major League Baseball Players Trust to seven Volunteers of America programs that further the organization's mission to strengthen communities and build better lives for those in need. More than $2.3 million has been provided by the Players Trust to 75 Volunteers of America programs since the first grants were presented by Major Leaguers in 2003.

Volunteers of America National President Mike King said, "Through the Players Trust, Major League baseball players have been true partners with Volunteers of America, and they have become familiar members of our team working to improve the lives of young people and those we serve. We look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come."

"I was honored to represent all Major Leaguers today in helping present grants from the Players Trust to Volunteers of America local affiliates that are providing important resources to some our country's most vulnerable citizens," stated Hawkins. "I have worked closely with a number of affiliates over the years, and I think I can speak for all Major Leaguers when I say the work Volunteers of America does on a daily basis is nothing short of amazing and inspirational. We're happy to be able to help support their efforts."

"Major Leaguers are proud to provide these grants to deserving programs administered by Volunteers of America local offices that address the needs of underserved populations across the United States," Players Trust Director, Melissa Persaud said. "Our hope is these funds will help provide each recipient with the resources to continue to have a substantial impact where it's needed most. Working together in this fashion helps the Players Trust and Volunteers of America combine our resources and expertise to assist those in need and encourage others to get involved in their own communities."

This year's winning programs received Players Trust grants ranging in size from $5,500 to $50,000, which were presented on June 10 at Volunteers of America's national conference in Denver, Colo. The seven programs serve thousands of people in all regions of the United States:

Volunteers of America Greater Ohio, Youth Educational Center: The grant will support the Brain Games & Activities program at the Youth Education Center, which provides after-school and full-time summer enrichment programming for homeless and at-risk youth in Columbus. The project will give students the opportunity to learn how to use a computer, and provide learning opportunities in a variety of grade-specific concepts suited to their needs. In addition, this project will help children exercise by giving them opportunities to play and be physically active through basketball and swimming.

Volunteers of America, Dakotas, Shelter Care program: The Players Trust funding will be used to purchase high-quality and durable furnishings and appliances for the agency's Shelter Care program. Shelter Care is a residential program that annually serves more than 400 boys and girls ages 9-17. Replacement of the 20-year old furniture and appliances will help improve Shelter Care's environment and increase youth participants' sense of safety and well-being, while also providing them with healthy and balanced meals.

Volunteers of America of Massachusetts, Casa Isla and Rebound Adolescent Boys Programs: This grant will purchase equipment for the Next Level Fitness Program. Next Level will provide residents with a structured training program that will help them maintain their weight, increase muscle tone and minimize risks of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, which are becoming more common among teenagers. Additionally, the fitness program will help residents stay more focused on their goals and achieve greater academic success.

Volunteers of America of Western Nebraska, Community Swimming Pool: Volunteers of America of Western Nebraska, in partnership with the City of Oshkosh and other community groups, will focus on increasing physical activity and nutrition education while providing fitness opportunities for residents in a high poverty area that has limited access to comprehensive health facilities. Grant funds will be used to construct a new community swimming pool to provide access to aquatic exercise and swimming for children and families. The rural area has poor health rankings with a high prevalence of obesity and other chronic conditions.

Volunteers of America Southeast, Eagles Landing: Funding will used for construction of a multi-purpose building to be used as a fitness and life skills training center at Eagles Landing, a 38-unit independent apartment community for veterans. Fitness will be an important factor as residents begin to rebuild their strength, resistance and endurance. The building will also serve as an area where meetings and trainings can be held, and where life skills can be developed and refined. With the addition of this space, Veterans will become healthier both physically and emotionally.

Volunteers of America Texas, McGovern Lavender program: The grant will be used to purchase a 15-passenger van for the McGovern Lavender site, a comprehensive substance abuse recovery program serving women with children. Reliable transportation is fundamental to the goal of allowing clients to stay engaged with their families and the world outside of treatment. The van will enable clients to more easily seek employment and training opportunities, participate in the lives of their children, and gain access to community resources that will help them build healthy, more fulfilling lives after addiction.

Volunteers of America, Utah, Homeless Youth Resource Center: Funds will support the establishment of the new Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City. The center will establish the first dedicated emergency shelter for youth ages 15-22, and will support the advancement in education, employment and housing services. The current center supports 45 homeless youth a day on average - and more than 900 youth annually - and has outgrown its capacity to accommodate all those in need of its services. The new center will serve 1,000 youth and ensure they have access to services and referrals.

Additionally, the players contributed $15,250 to two local affiliates in recognition of their efforts to help grow and improve the Action Team national youth volunteer program, which was created by the Players Trust and Volunteers of America in 2003 to train and inspire the next generation of volunteers. Affiliate Rewards Program awards were presented to Volunteers of America Florida and Volunteers of America Northern New England.

Volunteers of America has partnered with the Major League Baseball Players Trust since 2002. The centerpiece of this relationship is the Action Team program, which encourages young people throughout the United States to volunteer in their communities. Action Teams, consisting of Major League baseball players and Team Captains from area high schools, work together in cities nationwide to encourage young people to get involved in their communities by volunteering. To date, Action Teams across the country have inspired more than 65,000 high school students to help over 205,000 people in need by volunteering in their communities. For more information visit www.ActionTeam.org.