On Saturday, January 19, 13 members of the Rays ECOT team along with Rays pitchers Brandon Gomes and Alex Cobb worked with the Edible Peace Patch Project to create a garden at Campbell Park Elementary. The Edible Peace Patch Project works with local volunteers to build sustainable gardens at low income public schools in order to address the impacts of poverty in St. Petersburg and teach kids about science and nutrition. Rays employees spent the day digging and filling the holes with a mixture of organic materials including logs, mulch and other compost, then topped it off with top soil. Once completed, the students at Campbell Park were able to take an active role in planting the garden and will continue to care for it and watch it grow.
On August 30, 2012, 27 Rays employees volunteered at the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus. The day started out with a tour of the campus showing employees the different buildings and aspects of the campus that is used to teach their students and train the dogs. Employees played with puppies helping to teach them to socialize as well as listen to basic commands. After, the group then split up into three groups. One group worked on landscaping and cleaning gutters around the campus while another group walked dogs to get them their daily exercise. The third washed and brushed over 15 dogs to prepare them for their students.
Puppies and dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs represent mobility, independence, and freedom for the students. Each dog will learn over 40 commands before they leave the campus.
The Tampa Bay Rays ECOT volunteers visited the Woodside Hospice House in Pinellas Park. Fifty birdhouses were built and painted to adorn the Hospice grounds. Every resident at Woodside has a window which features one of the new birdhouses. Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Alexander said the birdhouses are a significant contribution, "The birdhouses serve as a comfort to the residents as they undergo a difficult time in their life. The residents, their families and the Hospice staff appreciate the Rays staff donating their time and energy. A birdhouse may seem small but it means a lot to the residents." The birdhouses were painted with bright colors and often attract lizards, butterflies and squirrels in addition to birds. Several of the birdhouses feature the Rays well-known burst and baseballs. Art therapy is one practice used at the Hospice so additional birdhouses and paint were donated to the Woodside Hospice House by the Rays.
The Woodside Hospice has over 3,500 volunteers. For more information about the Woodside Hospice House or to volunteer contact Lisa Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thirty-eight Rays employees teamed-up with Tampa Bay Watch to create new oyster shell reef habitat along the shoreline of Weedon Island located in St. Petersburg. Members of the group shoveled natural, fossilized oyster shells into mesh bags that were transported by boat to the island and strategically stacked to create the oyster bar. "We're working to build an oyster bar on the western shoreline of the mangrove shoreline," offered Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director for Tampa Bay Watch. "Over time the shoreline has experienced erosion due to changes in currents and sand distribution. Creation of a series of oyster bars is proposed to prevent further erosion of Weedon Island, create an oyster reef and protected shallow, calm water shoreline habitats, and improve water quality through the natural biological filtration that living oysters provide." This marked the second project Rays ECOT completed with Tampa Bay Watch since it was established in 2008.
On October 14 the Tampa Bay Rays Employee Community Outreach Team (ECOT) participated in the United Way's Day of Caring at Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg. The ECOT representatives painted a Raymond alphabet mural in the cafeteria as well as other beautification projects at the school. The Day of Caring was established in 1992 to promote the spirit and value of volunteerism, increase the awareness of local human service agencies and schools, and demonstrate what people working together for the community's good can accomplish.
The Rays Employee Community Outreach Team (ECOT) visited the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay on June 24 and assisted the center with cleaning and organizing the Family Stabilization room as well as sorting food and clothing donations. After cleaning the Trauma Recovery Services area, a Raymond mural was painted on the wall to finish up the room. Lastly, the grounds crew and maintenance crew landscaped the parking lot and staff area with new mulch, flower benches and blooming bushes. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay brings help, hope and healing to people facing serious life challenges or trauma. In 2010, it is estimated that the center provided assistance for over 175,000 Tampa Bay residents.
Feeding America is the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the country, consisting of a network of more than 200 food banks that provided over 16 million pounds of food in 2009, enough to provide over 200,000 meals a week. The Tampa Bay Rays ECOT team helped at the recently opened Pinellas warehouse where the team stocked shelves, sorted out food items, and stuffed gift bags that are delivered to families on Fridays to provide enough food for the weekend.
A group of Rays employees volunteered their time and help at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. The event consisted of applying a coat of Rustoleum to a future lion enclosure. Howard Baskin, who is the reserve's Advisory Board Chairman and our supervisor for the day, said the Rays volunteer group completed the most work of any volunteer group he had worked with at the reserve. Following the task he took the group on a brief tour to show some of the animals who had "retired" there, including tigers, lions, leopards, bobcats, and one liger.
Tampa Bay Rays ECOT team worked with the Louise Graham Regeneration Center and DayStar Life Center on Shred Day. Individuals and corporations donated a canned good item to benefit DayStar Life Center which provides emergency assistance to individuals and families below the poverty level. An estimated total of 2,000lbs of paper were shredded by the Rays employees and the Louise Graham Regeneration Center staff whose recycling efforts serves as a way to fund a program for developmentally disabled individuals and provides life skills and pre-vocational training.
Ten Rays employees volunteered their time to assist and provide support to the 24 junior campers enrolled in 'The Blooming Place for Kids' program. 'A Blooming Place for Kids' is a program designed to help nurture and enrich the lives of children who are coping with the adversity and uncertainty of growing up in foster care. Through a week-long camp these children get to participate and enjoy various activities specifically developed to nurture individual growth, build self esteem and restore trust and confidence. Through the course of the day, the children got to zip line, canoe, and splashed about in the pool before enjoying a wonderful poolside luau. By all accounts the highlight of the day was an appearance by Raymond who stole the show with his silly antics and great big bear hugs!
Twenty-two Rays Employees went to the Children's Home of Tampa recently. Rays employees went to work clearing a bike path which was overrun with brush through the woods for the kids of the Children's Home to use. The bike path is used for daily recreation by the kids who stay at the Children's Home and during their annual "Murphy Awards" held each summer.
Rays employees volunteered at Finance Park, an entity of the Gus A. Stavros Institute located in Largo, FL. The Rays employees assisted eighth graders from Safety Harbor Middle School who had completed a six-week economic education course rooted in making lifelong personal decisions. The students visit to Finance Park was the culmination of their course work where they simulated their given life situations in one day. Rays employees assisted by supervising student groups, correcting and checking students' calculations, and discussing the financial choices made by the students. The day was a great success!
On Saturday, April 17, the Rays participated in the 21st annual Paint Your Heart Out Tampa! PYHOT benefits elderly Tampa homeowners on a fixed income by giving their homes a fresh coat of paint and a brand new look. Over the past two decades, PYHOT volunteers have painted over 2,100 homes.
Rays volunteers showed up at the home of John Scott at 8 a.m. to begin painting his house. By 3 p.m., the work had been completed and Mr. Scott's home had been completely repainted.
Rays employees volunteered their time to assist residents of the Westminster Suncoast Assisted Living Facility.
Rays employees worked in the Resident Garden, replacing plants, clearing weeds, brush, painting, labeling plants, cutting vines, and even knocking down tree limbs.
ECOT, established in April 2008, provides invaluable, voluntary man hours to community service agencies that enhance or improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. ECOT's philanthropic efforts give the Rays a year-round, goodwill presence in the community. Service projects are chosen from ideas suggested from employees. Employee volunteering not only benefits the community and the Rays organization, but also can provide employees with opportunities to improve leadership skills and explore new areas of interest while working alongside fellow employees from other departments.