NEW YORK - After three months without a practice Franky Alameda and his team of thirty kids are back on the field.
Alameda founded the Lower East Side Sports Academy six years ago, to provide athletic training in baseball, basketball and football to children from low income families.
“I take kids that don't have parents, or they live with grandparents, or they don't have dads, I come out there play with them, practice with them, warm up with them, so I fit into a lot of those role models," Alameda said.
When sports teams were shut down, they may have not been running the bases or practicing their swings, but the young players were still hard at work.
Alameda tried to keep these athletes busy but without a bat and gloves.
He gave them soap and sponges, and the responsibility of hosting daily car washes.
“Our kids have been saving money, earning money, and also getting active, moving outside of the house, where they’re not so active with their PlayStations, Xbox or iPhones," Alameda said.
Alameda says, like sports, washing cars teaches the importance of hard work and discipline.
“I want my kids to learn economics, our inner city kids, we don’t learn economics at a young age," Alameda said.
And for 12-year-old Eric Owens, he washed enough vehicles to open his own bank account.
“Franky gave me a call one day and just said ‘hey you want to start car washing’ and I said sure, next thing you know im making 200 dollars every month," Owens said.
Alameda says his mission is more than just teaching kids how to catch a ball. But as someone that also grew up in the neighborhood, he wants to be a person they can trust and look up to.
“In my eyes, I can help someone else through what i’ve been through, thats what I do. That’s just my most satisfaction, more than anything just helping inner-city kids, cherishing them and make them see the future and that there are better things in life than what they have now," Alameda said.
And that’s exactly what he’s done. Many of his players have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs, business owners, and some even became coaches themselves.
So, for being a role model to young New Yorkers on and off the field, Franky Alameda is our New Yorker of the Week.