I go bowling maybe twice a year. That stretches to three times if I’m looking for a cheap way to take my wife out on a date. In other words, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a pro. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of strikes (I once started out a game with 5 in a row), but those are just fleeting moments here and there. What I can call myself is a competitive person. I’m not a fan of losing. I actually can’t wait to have kids so that I can destroy them in sports–teaching them the valuable lesson of not always being able to win, of course. To lose in a bowling competition seven years in a row was more frustrating than trying to get a cow to walk down steps (they won’t do it, by the way).
The Cleveland Indians and The Cleveland Browns have been competing in a charity event called “Bowl for Kid’s Sake” for the past eleven years. The event raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters, while at the same time, allows both front offices to show off their bowling skills. For the past seven years, the Browns have beaten us. And for the past seven years, they have had bragging rights over us. That all stopped on May 2, 2013 when the Cleveland Indians put together the beast of all teams and beat the Browns by almost 7,000 pins to capture the championship! Helping us to that victory were Indians players Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, Yan Gomes, Bryan Shaw and Indians wives, Meryl Masterson, Jenny Gomes, Kristen Shaw, Kathleen Reynolds, Amanda Kluber, Melanie Perez, and Meredith Chisenhall (Lonnie stayed home to watch the kids).
Now, of course, the real winners involved here are the kids. Over $10,000 was raised at the event to support Big Brothers Big Sisters. Their mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. (www.bbbs.org/cleveland)
As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 9 through 18, in communities across the country (www.bbbs.org/cleveland).
I was able to catch up to one of the front office employees at the Indians, Matt Gay, who is actually a “Big” in his spare time. He was nice enough to take part in my new blog segment that I’m calling “The 3 Main Questions.”
1.) How long have you been a Big Brother?
I officially have been a “Big” here in Cleveland since December of 2012, a process that started in June of last year, as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program does a great job of making sure that each Big/Little match is the right fit. Some matches take a little bit longer than others to set up.
2.) What made you want to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
I had attended a Summer Day Camp growing up, and had the opportunity to work as a Counselor for several years at the same camp that I attended since the age of 9 in Connecticut. I worked there in different capacities from the age of 15-20, which really showed me the joys of working with children and being able to make an impact in their lives. While I attended Syracuse University I was a part of their Big Brothers Big Sisters program for three years (Sophomore-Senior). This was essentially a weekly after-school program at a local Middle School where I would go with fellow students and we would help our Littles with their homework, do arts and crafts and run around outside. I always say that I am still just a big kid so it makes it easier to just have fun and connect.
3.) You work for the Cleveland Indians. What does it mean to you knowing that they support Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Knowing that the Cleveland Indians support Big Brothers Big Sisters, just gives me another reason to take pride in sporting the Block C or Chief Wahoo, because I work for a company that continually gives back to the community and understands the importance of serving others.
Long story short, our bowling championship drought is finally over. All it took was a little hard work and patience. Throughout these seven years, I’ve fallen back on the same quote over and over to get me through the hard losses: “With patience and saliva, the ant will eventually eat the elephant.” I don’t know who said it, but it really is a powerful quote. I’m not saying that we are going to start winning every year, because that isn’t a safe bet. I am saying that we will continue to win with our off the field efforts and supporting great organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. And that is all I really need (since I now have my victory over the Browns)!
I had an amazing blog entry written today, but I just erased it all. Why? Because I tried to get too wordy and too “deep” and that just caused the blog to seem fake. It might have won me a Pulitzer, but it didn’t fit my normal writing mood. I know if my mood changes, then my fans and followers would get upset and I would be stuck writing a blog that no one ever looks at anymore. I did keep the title of my blog entry the same, just so you can see how poetic I was probably going to get had I kept the original text. To be honest, I have no story or historic event in my life that could even relate to our recent Indians in the Community event held at Providence House. To try to create one just for point of reference would simply be an injustice to what the great people at Providence House stand for.
And with that…
The Cleveland Indians continued their April Indians in the Community program by volunteering at Providence House in Cleveland. Providence House is an organization that fights to end child abuse and neglect by protecting at-risk families, empowering families in crisis and building safe communities for every child. Located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, Providence House serves kids ranging from infants to 10 years old. Their hope is that children everywhere are raised in safe, loving families free from abuse and neglect. Since the creation of Providence House 31 years ago, they have become more than an emergency shelter for children; including case management and supportive services for both the children and their families.
The Indians front office volunteers included staff from varioius departments as well as Meryl Masterson (wife of Indians pitcher Justin Masterson), Jenna Gomes and her husband Yan Gomes (Indians catcher). We started off our morning touring the facility. From there, we were split into two groups. One group assembled intake bags, which are kitted items that each child receives upon arrival at Providence House and takes home when he or she leaves (toothbrush, 5+sets of clothes, shoes, etc.). The other group was able to play with the kids who are staying at Providence House on their new playground at the newly remodeled and expanded House.
The volunteer event took place just days after Indians 1B Nick Swisher and his wife Joanna generously donated $75,000 to Providence House during the pre-game ceremonies of Opening Day. The Swishers, known for their charitable efforts and contributions, have clearly brought their philanthropic ways here to Cleveland with them and for that, we thank them.
If you’d like to learn more about Providence House or would like to volunteer, visit http://www.provhouse.org. Thank you again to all who helped out and to the players and their wives for spending time volunteering on one of their few, precious off days!