By Ike Dodson, CDCR Public Information Officer
Office of Public and Employee Communications
Angela Kent has a contagious enthusiasm for Community Reentry Services, but the Assistant Regional Administrator (A), Northern Region, seems to literally beam when she talks about the Division of Adult Parole Operations’ (DAPO) running team, “Baker to Vegas Team #150” and its unusal fundraiser.
Kent, her Co-Captains Tina Rivero, Onyanga Dean, and Rick and Mireya Audet, and a team of over 30 fellow parole agent runners and volunteers have teamed with Handing Out HOPE to collect a hoard of baseball and softball equipment for distribution to the children of impoverished countries. Kent and Rivero will hand off the DAPO Baker to Vegas Team to Dean and the Audets after this year; although, they remain committed to assisting the future Captains in all endeavors on behalf of the division.
“What we are already doing in the course of our employment speaks to strengthening and building up returning offenders to become better community members and achieve great things in their lives. This project coincides with what we do as parole agents,” Kent said. “We believe in the unity and individual strength that sports bring, and the thought of children in other countries not having access to play, because they lack the basic necessities, i.e., equipment, is unnerving.”
Handing Out HOPE will receive the product of DAPO’s harvest March 13 in a special ceremony at the state capitol.
Just 12 days later, the Baker to Vegas Running Team #150 begins a grueling 120-mile Challenge Cup Relay, on the infamous Highway 160 leading them from Baker, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Through day temperatures above 100 degrees to nights lowering into the 20-degree range, there is reason for the words, “blood, sweat, and tears”.
The running team has its own fundraiser to make the trek possible. Handing Out HOPE won’t be funding any runs, but instead channeling the team’s proactive outreach into the eager arms of youth, both boys and girls, ready to “play ball” across the globe.
“We have already received donations coming in from the field. Giving back has great rewards, and I believe that we are all waiting in anticipation to see the pictures of the kids who receive the equipment when it gets delivered,” Kent said. “I think it’s a testament to the strength of our division that we can come together to ensure that we complete this mission – that we all share the belief of empowering communities worldwide and strengthening them for future success.”
This is the first year the team successfully connected with Handing Out HOPE creator Steve Abrams, a longtime Northern California coach now positioned at the Office of Legislative Counsel. Kent said, “This is a long time coming, and I am glad that we can see this through to set a precedence moving forward. Meeting Abrams and developing this partnership has been an enlightening experience for all of us involved.”
Since 2008, the Handing Out HOPE foundation has sent over 6,800 pieces of baseball equipment to children throughout the world, including youth of the Dominican Republic, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine, Mexico, Romania and Nigeria. Abrams operates in a partnership with the Baseball Without Borders program to deliver the equipment worldwide. Juan Bustos, the president of Baseball Without Borders, is a big fan of the cooperation between both programs.
“On behalf of the children of the baseball world, we want to thank our longtime friend and partner, Handing Out HOPE, for their continued generosity and friendship,” Bustos said in a newsletter. “Handing Out HOPE has been instrumental in reaching our goal of 1,000,000 children smiles. Thank you, Steve Abrams and crew, for your hard work and love for the children of the baseball world.”
Anyone who wants to donate equipment can leave the gear at their nearest parole unit by Feb. 24. Abrams will accept the haul at the capitol in a special ceremony that will also include the Baker to Vegas Running Team #150.
Kent has big aspirations. “I would like to see three full truckloads of equipment,” she said. “I’m extremely excited to see the outcome.”
For more information on donation sites in the Northern Region, contact Angela Kent at Angela.Kent@cdcr.ca.gov or Onyanga Dean at Onyanga.Dean@cdcr.ca.gov. For more information on donation sites in the Southern Region, contact Mireya Audet at Mireya.Audet@cdcr.ca.gov, Rick Audet at Richard.Audet@cdcr.ca.gov, or Tina Rivero at Tina.Rivero@cdcr.ca.gov.