Fay Vincent, the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, famously once observed that baseball teaches us, among other things, how to deal with failure. That vital life lesson is reinforced with every at-bat of every baseball game played at every level of competition in every corner of the country. And it’s the same critical lesson in perseverance that lives at the core of Harlem RBI.
Founded 25 years ago, Harlem RBI is a youth development program, primarily serving children from two of New York’s inner-city communities: East Harlem and the South Bronx. It provides educational and recreational programming year-round for 1,700 kids, and even created the DREAM Charter School, a public school based in East Harlem that first opened its doors in 2008.
“The only difference between a student who lives in public housing in East Harlem and a student who lives 20 blocks south on the Upper East Side is just opportunity,” Eve Colavito, Head of the DREAM Charter School, said in a video produced earlier this year to celebrate the school’s Silver Anniversary.
Through providing such enrichment opportunities, both baseball- and baseball-oriented, Harlem RBI has become an institution in and around New York City. Recently retired Yankees first baseman Mark Texeiera is among the lineup of heavy hitters on the Board of Directors. Goldman Sachs held a company-wide Wiffle Ball fundraiser back in August.
And, now, two middle school boys from nearby in Westchester County have made Harlem RBI their mission.
Both Davey Kaplan and Charlie Szuchman are preparing to become a Bar Mitzvah, to be welcomed into the Jewish community as young adults. As part of the process leading up to this traditional ceremony, many middle school-aged boys and girls are required to perform some sort of community service, which can include raising money for their charity of choice.
As soon as Davey and Charlie learned about Harlem RBI and the kids it provides its programming for, the choice was a no-brainer. A home run, if you will.
“Other friends of ours are doing a Midnight Run or something for Special Olympics. We wanted to do something different,” Charlie said.
Both boys are big baseball fans. They play baseball every spring in their local rec league and play on different 13U travel teams for as much of the calendar as they can.
Through their shared mitzvah project, they are raising money that will help pay for kids — their own age and younger — to participate in Harlem RBI’s programs.
“We know we’re really fortunate, and that we should do what we can to help out,” said Davey. “We feel proud knowing that what we’re doing can help change a kid’s childhood.”
Visit the boys’ Flipgive fundraising campaign below and help them support Harlem RBI.