In an effort to give back to the community during All-Star week, Major League Baseball and the Mets have teamed up in an initiative to better the lives of veterans getting health care and support at St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
On a day they probably would have preferred to be poolside, volunteers gathered on Monday to upgrade the outdoor recreation area for veterans at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System's St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens.
"It's ongoing health care, all kinds of social care, recreation activities," said VA NY Harbor Healthcare System Director Martina Parauda. "Just as if you were living at home, this is their home."
The project is part of an initiative by Major League Baseball and the Mets to leave a lasting legacy in the city during All-Star week. Volunteers from Bank of America and the not-for-profit group Rebuilding Together also lent a hand.
"We want to thank our fans but we want to give back to the community every way possible and it's a great venue for us and a great platform for us to do that during All Star week where the whole world is watching," said MLB Vice President of Community Affairs Tom Brasuell.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was also there to thank everyone, including the veterans themselves.
"Our goal is to leave a lasting and enduring legacy in the New York community by supporting unique community projects that make a difference in people's lives," said Selig.
Bank of America also donated $75,000 towards the project and Scotts Miracle-Gro provided free products for the landscaping.
The new and improved space was applauded by veterans like Anthony Soto, who was a Marine in Vietnam during the early 1970s.
"It's a beautiful place," said Soto. "Compared to the space that we had where nothing was, it's truly elegant."
Veterans and staff also heard from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mets owner Fred Wilpon, and former Mets and All-Star MVP George Foster, who has a foundation that helps children of military personnel.
"Letting the military know that they're important, that we care about them, and that we want to be able to do whatever we can to help them out as a family," said Foster.
As a piece of interesting trivia, before the property was a veterans' facility, it was a golf course where big time all-star Babe Ruth used to play.