As most everyone in San Francisco knows, the Giants won the World Series championship earlier this fall. But the Giants brought home a second victory, as well: the California Prize for Service and the Common Good.
The California Prize is an award presented by the University to an individual or organization who contributes greatly to the needs of the local community. Over the last year, the Giants organization has spent as much time doing good in their community as on the baseball field—and this year, it showed. USF took note of the great contributions from the Giants Community Fund and the Junior Giants Program, determining back in March that San Francisco’s own Major League Baseball team would be the 2012 recipients of the prize.
Thus, the California Prize awards event this past Nov. 12 gleamed orange and black.
The theme of the fifth annual dinner night was the connection between “doing good and doing well,” the reciprocity between positive actions in the community and the success of such an organization within that community, said President Stephen Privett, S.J. and Giants President and CEO Larry Baer.
“Doing good and doing well are mutually enforcing in achieving life’s goals. The Giants are about more than winning baseball games,” Father Privett said during the presentation of the award on Welsh Field. Baer echoed the sentiment in his acceptance speech. “The reality is that the road for doing well is doing good in a society,” he said.
Since 1991, the Giants have followed that road with the Giants Community Fund. A non-profit organization, the Fund has donated over $14 million to community efforts throughout its 21 years. According to its mission statement, “the Giants Community Fund collaborates with the San Francisco Giants by using baseball as a forum to encourage underserved youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives.”
One such way the Giants goes about this is through the Junior Giants, a non-competitive youth baseball program for at-risk children ages 5–18. The program means to provide a sense of community, an alternative to drugs and violence, and a chance to learn the sport of baseball without the typical expenses. The Fund provides all of the equipment and training necessary to run the leagues, as well as free tickets to certain Giants games. Aside from education in baseball, the Junior Giants also aims to teach the children life skills by focusing on the ideas of confidence, integrity, leadership and teamwork.
The Giants Community Fund also supports public awareness campaigns at AT&T park, and annually provides grants to other charitable organizations who benefit the community through health services, violence prevention and educational programs.
Baer, who received the award for the Giants, revealed a strong connection between the type of service that USF encourages and the services of the Giants Community Fund. “USF and the Giants have a symbiotic relationship,” he said. “Both of us wear SF across our chests and take seriously our utility as more than a business or university.”
The University and the Giants share more than a passion for community service—they also share a workspace. According to Baer, there are USF graduates employed with the Giants in every department. “It’s not just because USF’s proximity to AT&T Park….we share a common vision of the community,” he said.
Evidence of such shared vision can be seen from the collaboration between Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and USF professor David Batstone on the non-profit organization Not For Sale (NFS). Batstone is the co-founder of the organization, which fights human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Affeldt became involved with NFS after he was traded to the Giants in 2009, and has been supporting the initiative ever since. This season he pledged to donate $250 for every strikeout, hold, save and win. In the 67 games he pitched for the Giants, that money built up into a significant donation for the Not For Sale organization.
Of course, Affeldt also contributed in another way by helping to pitch the Giants into the World Series Championship. “USF and I take full credit for knowing that the Giants would be the World Series Champions at the time of this dinner back in March,” Privett joked during the award ceremony.
The night’s connections between providing service to one’s community and finding success in the rest of life’s endeavors were strong, sending a powerful message to both the USF affiliated guests and the members of the Giants organization.
In short, Privett concluded in his speech that the Giants won the World Series because they are good people, not just good baseball players. They are good because they do good for their community, for the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
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