The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, a nonprofit serving at-risk youth in underserved communities across the United States, announced today the organization will bring its next Youth Development Park project to Springfield. Mayor Domenic Sarno, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation Executive Director, Steve Salem, Foundation Vice President, Chuck Brady, Nick Fyntrilakis, MassMutual’s Assistant Vice President of Community Responsibility and Springfield’s Director of Parks, Buildings & Recreational management, Patrick J. Sullivan were on hand for the announcement.
The Ripken Youth Development Park will be located at Central High School, and serve as the home of Central High School’s outdoor sports, while serving as an outdoor classroom for after school and weekend programs designed to meet community needs. The Youth Development Park, combined with interesting and fun programs will enable the Ripken Foundation and its local partners to attract and make a positive impact on the lives of at-risk youth for the long term. The Ripken Foundation will work closely with the Springfield Parks and Recreation Department and others to develop a collaborative model of service delivery to reach thousands of at-risk young people from communities where negative influences limit their potential, compromise their health, impair their sense of self, and generally restrict their chances for leading productive lives.
The Ripken Foundation has selected Springfield as the site of its latest Youth Development Park based on a demonstrated need and the extraordinary vision and support of Mayor Sarno and the Springfield Department of Parks and Recreation to embrace this worthy project for the community’s young people. The Ripken Foundation has secured approximately 70% of the funds required and will be campaigning over the next few months to secure the reaming funds necessary to complete the project.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and community organizations will utilize the field to implement character education programming and clinics, including Badges for Baseball, a multi-faceted mentoring program that partners with local law enforcement as coaches and mentors to at-risk youth.
“When we started the Foundation ten years ago, we wanted to help kids and pay tribute to our dad,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., Baseball Hall of Famer and co-founder of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. “However, we never imagined we would be able to do so much for kids across the country. We now have a model that we are bringing to many other communities. I want to thank everyone who helped make this possible and we are thrilled that the kids of Springfield will benefit from this marvelous field.”
“This is a wonderful day for the kids of Springfield,” added Steve Salem. “The commitment of the Ripken family and our dedicated board of directors and staff helped make this happen. The Ripken Foundation is very familiar with the City of Springfield and some of the urban challenges they face through one of our programs run by Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe through area boys and girls clubs. Thank you to the many generous donors and partners as well as the Honorable Domenic Sarno for their unwavering support and assistance. The Foundation chose Springfield over many other competing communities across the country because of the advocacy of Mayor Sarno, Sheriff Ashe, Pat Sullivan and other local officials who made the difference.”
“The Cal Ripken Foundation has made our wishes come true today by allowing the City to improve the Berte Field with artificial turf - a project that has been discussed for over ten years, stated Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. Unfortunately, due to costs and unexpected emergency projects the city has not been able to identify the resources to build a much needed artificial turf complex. Our dream and wishes are now being answered and it is due to the formidable work that is provided by the Cal Ripken foundation. It is because of their commitment in getting youth involved in athletics and understanding the importance of ensuring quality field surfaces are paramount in delivering the best possible experience in sports. This generous donation in coordinating the reconstruction of this field will open new opportunities for Springfield. It will provide the area teams and organizations the ability to utilize this field to its full potential for hosting youth instructional clinics, marching band practices, youth tournaments, regional tournaments, and more importantly offer the opportunity to gain year round access to Berte Field. By the end of every football season the field is worn and tired and spring has been off limits so the grass could be renewed. Now we will have unlimited potential to offer the field during all seasons. Thank You to the Cal Ripken foundation for choosing Springfield for your next project.”
“MassMutual is pleased to support the Ripken Youth Development Park in an effort to provide the young people in our community a positive and nurturing environment. The Park will offer not only a place for physical activity – but also a space for mentoring and youth development that is greatly needed in our community,” said Nick Fyntrilakis, Assistant Vice President, Community Responsibility, MassMutual.
School Committee Member Peter Murphy, Chair of the maintenance and grounds subcommittee stated “the school committee is proud to be working with Mayor Sarno and the City in welcoming the Cal Ripken foundation in successfully rebuilding Berte Field to its full potential. Sports are important to the High School experience and this will aid the school department in opening more programming to all of our high schools and middle schools by scheduling sporting events at this new field. This will open new opportunities for our students and instill pride that Springfield does care for the quality of our sports complexes.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alan J. Ingram said the improvements to Berte Field will have an overall positive impact on the school and the district. “We are very grateful that those around us have identified a need and generously committed to fill that need,” said Ingram. “Our students deserve to work and play in an environment that represents the excellence that we know they are all capable of and this new field will exemplify that beautifully. We are thrilled.”
Springfield’s Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreational Management, Patrick Sullivan, stated “this is great news for our sports teams and more importantly our youth. The Cal Ripken Foundation’s commitment to communities is tremendous and this is at a critical time in that we have exhausted the city resources in providing ample field space for our teams. This gift will ensure our youth are number one and our recreation department looks forward to working with the community in expanding programming and instructional programs throughout the year.”
This initiative is part of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation’s national Youth Development Park initiative, which was developed to provide at-risk youth in select neighborhoods safe places to play and learn. The goal is to develop several unique, multi-purpose, low maintenance fields with synthetic turf provided by AstroTurf, which will provide a cohesive recreational and educational experience for underserved young people across the United States. The first of the Youth Development Parks was opened last December at the old Memorial Stadium site in Baltimore, Md.
About the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation uses baseball and softball themed programs to help build character and teach critical life lessons to at-risk youth residing in America’s most distressed communities. Founded in 2001 by members of the Ripken family in memory of their patriarch Cal, Sr., the Foundation works to create programs that positively impact disadvantaged youth through active community partnerships with America’s most successful youth service organizations. To learn more visit www.ripkenfoundation.org.