A Night with the NY Mets during Black History Month

Mets reps from the Black Professionals and LatinX Employee Resource Groups connect with Queens youth at our Basie Beacon program at M.S. 72

Introducing youth to new possibilities is a key way The Child Center of NY works to increase high school graduation rates — one of The Child Center’s central goals — and get young people excited about preparing for their future.

On February 5, The Child Center of NY collaborated with the NY Mets and the Queens District Attorney’s Office to host a career panel at our Basie Beacon Program at Catherine and Count Basie Middle School 72 in Jamaica. Our Basie Beacon program is a designated “SNL” — short for “Saturday Night Lights” — site, which is an initiative sponsored by the Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s office to offer sports-based and other enrichment programming to youth at night. It started as a violence prevention program, but it has grown to become a robust, strengths-based opportunity that also offers dance and other enrichment activities.

Mets visit Basie Beacon at M.S. 72The event featured panelists from the NY Mets front office. In person to discuss their career paths were (from left to right in the photo) Devon Sherwood, the Mets’ former manager of alumni relations and team historian; Howard Cole, Account Executive in Group Sales (also Vice Chair of the Mets Black Professionals Employee Resource Group); Farouk Braimah, consultant to the Brooklyn Nets security team (he provided security support to Kevin Durant!); Ethan Wilson, Senior Director of Communications; Alan Gaines, Account Executive in Group Sales (also Chair of the Mets Black Professionals Employee Resource Group); Juan David Londono, Manager of Partnership Development in Corporate Sponsorship (also Co-Chair of the Mets LatinX Employee Resource Group); and Jessie Rodriguez in Accounting (also Co-Chair of the Mets LatinX Employee Resource Group).

About 25 students, elementary through high school, along with 12 adult guests listened with rapt attention as the panelists described their career paths and how their current jobs allow them to be involved in and contribute to the sport they love.

WLNY came by to record and report on the event. As you can hear in the clip (above), eighth-grade participant Corey told the WLNY reporter, “I learned a lot from [the panelists] and how you can do more than just be a player in the game.”

“Our participants are very interested in sports,” said Beacon Program Director Kevin Yeboah. “This event was important because hearing about these opportunities made them more excited. They can get caught up in the player aspect, because on TV we don’t see the people who work behind the scenes. We don’t learn about lucrative careers in sports that don’t stress out your body as much, that don’t require you to be a superstar player. … The participants were glad to hear about other jobs that they can do and enjoy.”

The panel was followed by a Q&A session, as well as time for students to chat directly with panelists.

Also participating in the event was NYPD Youth Coordination Officer Lombardo, who has a close and trusting relationship with youth at our Beacon program, where he’s a familiar face and often engages students through planned events and programming as well as informal conversation.

The evening’s activities culminated with a pick-up basketball game in which youth, panelists, Officer Lombardo, other officers of the 113th Precinct, and Beacon staff showed their stuff on the court.

The Mets representatives gave out team T-shirts and hats to the students as a memento of the event.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has been a staunch proponent of the SNL program. “The growth of the Saturday Night Lights program reflects the importance of empowering young New Yorkers to make good choices,” District Attorney Katz said. “Saturday Night Lights is a program that enables young participants to spend that time in positive ways, engaging in team-building experiences, high-intensity sports, and other recreational activities. This expansion across Queens represents keen investment in our youth, our communities, and public safety in our borough.”

The Child Center was one of two sites where the Queens District Attorney’s office piloted the workshop, to see if this topic is of interest to students before offering it to other sites. Program Director Kevin Yeboah expressed that he hopes the program spreads.

“We got great feedback from students as well as parents about the event. It really allowed our students the opportunity to connect with the NY Mets and be excited about the future,” Yeboah said. “They offered the students a wealth of knowledge in regard to career opportunities in sports. So many students told me they were happy to hear that there are other opportunities outside of being a player, and they asked the guests plenty of questions. It was a great night.”

We thank the Queens District Attorney Katz and the Queens D.A. office for their investment in the future of the young people we serve; we are deeply grateful for this collaboration. We are also incredibly thankful to the NY Mets for being an inspiring and dedicated community partner!

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