It’s a recent Tuesday morning and Mike Miller, Gorkys Hernandez and Nick Lovullo are already wearing their PawSox jerseys. Specifically, the fashion choice is the specialty Osos Polares de Pawtucket uniform that’s broken out every Tuesday home game at McCoy Stadium.
First pitch isn’t for seven hours, so what exactly are these teammates doing?
On this particular occasion, Miller, Hernandez and Lovullo, along with PawSox front office members, loveable mascots Paws and Sox, and City of Providence representatives, are sitting in the library of the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex, located in Providence. They are flanked by high school students, teachers and administrators.
A lively discussion unfolds between the guests of honor and those associated with the school’s Kindness Crew, whose mission is to promote kindness “to all human beings inside and outside Juanita Sanchez.” The program dovetails with the PawSox’ “50 Acts of Kindness” initiative, which is part of the season-long “Celebrate Rhode Island” program that was announced earlier this year.
Kindness … meet kindness.
“It was very impressive to see young people take the lead and try to change the culture at their school. It’s something you definitely don’t see every day,” said Miller, an infielder now in his fifth season with the PawSox. “They’re taking matters into their own hands and working hard together in order to make a difference.
“Something like this shows the importance of making the world their community … the small things that make a big difference,” Miller added. “You hear the clichés about making a difference one person at a time, but to put those thoughts and ideas into action …”
In a telling example of making an impact outside of the school, members of the Kindness Crew will venture to Providence elementary schools.
“They want to read to youngsters because they want to impact them at a young age and demonstrate that people care about them,” said Miller. “To implement something like that when you’re dealing with kids who are six or seven years old is a pretty powerful mindset for someone who’s 15 or 16.”
After posing for pictures with the members of the Kindness Crew, Miller along with Hernandez and Lovullo accompanied Juanita Sanchez students to select classrooms. At each stop, the PawSox players presented flowers to teachers who have done their part to motivate youngsters to do better.
A stop was also made at the school’s Kindness Wall. If a student or teacher is ever in need of a pick-me-up message, either for themselves or someone who might be experiencing difficulty, it’s not uncommon to see someone wear a post-it note featuring a poignant quote that’s designed to elevate one’s spirits.
“The whole school is impacted in a way where everyone seems to interact with each other. If someone is feeling low, someone will be there to reach out,” said Miller. “To see people so young be proactive can be a wakeup call for anybody. They didn’t play the woe-is-me card. They don’t express any sort of pity because this is the situation. They went out and did something about it.”
“If these kids can do it with less resources compared to other communities, it puts into perspective what you’re doing. What am I doing? What should I be doing? How much more can I do to help?”
Rest assured that PawSox players appearing at a high school is not a one-shot deal. The club has met with leaders of 10 cities and towns in Rhode Island in an effort to discover new ways for the club or the PawSox Foundation to help each community.
The first event took place in March and featured an assembly for children at Central Falls’ Veterans Elementary School. That day, the new team caps and jerseys featuring the Osos Polares logo were unveiled and an invitation was extended for kids (age 12 & under) to be admitted free to the first four Osos games at McCoy (The remaining two chances are May 14 & May 28).
To demonstrate their outreach throughout the state this year, the local Triple-A ballclub will present a traveling “PawSox Rhode Show” that will include baseball instruction from players, as well as mascot visits, music, and souvenirs. The club’s participation could center on meeting a particular community need, whether it’s bringing cheer to seniors, reading to children, or distributing socks and other warm clothing.
It’s all part of the club’s mission to render 50 “Acts of Kindness” to the communities of Rhode Island, as the PawSox and Red Sox celebrate 50 years of partnership. Another “Act of Kindness” initiative is on deck for Saturday, May 4 as the PawSox will head to Briar Point Beach in Coventry to aid in a cleanup in conjunction with Save The Bay.