His pitch may have gone high and wide but no matter – Chris Boyd was absolutely thrilled that he was part of giving the Eastridge Little League a much nicer home in San Jose. Boyd, the Senior Vice President and Area Manager of Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, lead the team effort to rehabilitate the baseball field at Fischer Middle School, now home field for several Eastridge teams.
And for his support, he threw out one of the many celebratory “first pitches” for opening day.
“I was pretty rusty,” laughed Boyd, who was decked out in full San Francisco Giants regalia. “The poor catcher had to really stretch for the ball.”
Eastridge’s opening day was a celebration of the refurbished ball field, and the crowd was in a baseball frame of mind.
Silicon Valley tech company NVIDIA was first on base for the project, by selecting Fischer as the site of Project Inspire 2014, its annual large–scale community service event held in place of a holiday party. Nearly 1,500 employees, their families and members of the community spent two days in December transforming Fischer’s campus. Volunteers built an outdoor classroom and community garden, created seating areas, painted murals and landscaped the site, making the East San Jose school a safer and more inspiring environment for learning.
Because revamping a ball field needs to be done by professionals, it was outside the scope of Project Inspire. Given the prospective community health benefits NVIDIA thought Kaiser Permanente was the perfect sponsor to bring about the transformation needed.
“The field was pretty awful,” said Boyd, who walked the original field several months ago with former San Jose Councilmember Xavier Campos, who once represented the area of East San Jose. Campos wondered if Kaiser Permanente could “pitch hit” to get the field fixed up.
“The backstop was covered with graffiti, the bases were missing, it was a mess,” said Boyd. On the walk, he agreed to go to bat for the project.
So Boyd, and Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit program fielded the resources for the school district to redo the field. Kaiser Permanente’s nationwide Community Benefit program provides grants in need to nonprofit health programs, and exercise is part of that health mission.
“We completely stripped off the old sod, and repaired the irrigation system,” said Boyd, watching the Eastridge Little League teams proudly step onto their new field of dreams for the first time.
With Kaiser Permanente’s support, the outfield sod was replaced, new baselines and bases were created and a new pitcher’s mound and rubber were added.
“We’re proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente to give the kids from Fischer Middle School and Eastridge Little League a first–rate baseball field,” said Tonie Hansen, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility at NVIDIA. “It will be an important health resource for the community for years to come, and help make Fischer a great place to learn, play and grow. That’s what NVIDIA Project Inspire is all about.”
For Boyd, the project was really a chance to create a field of dreams for kids, “part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.”