Worcester, MA - Throughout the 2021 season, members of the Worcester Bravehearts baseball team had the unique opportunity of getting to know members of Open Sky Community Services through the Braveheart Pen Pal Club sponsored by Cornerstone Bank and Beltone. The summer-long program culminated with a cookout at Fitton Field on August 11 where the pen pals were able to meet in person.
The Community Membership team at Open Sky coordinated with Dave Peterson, Bravehearts General Manager, and Nate Gonelli, Director of Sales, to connect individuals served by Open Sky with Worcester Bravehearts players. The pen pals corresponded back and forth through a journal over the course of the summer to help the Bravehearts players feel welcome in Central Mass.
The individuals served by Open Sky who participate in the program had intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health challenges or brain injury. This was an opportunity for them to be a part of the community and form a connection with the players. At the season-ending cookout, individuals from Open Sky gave baseball caps with the agency’s logo to their Bravehearts pen pals and in return received signed books, baseball cards and Bravehearts baseball caps. Peterson welcomed the individuals from Open Sky, and Matt Small, COO of Open Sky was in attendance as well.
“It is important for the student athletes of the Worcester Bravehearts to engage in a program like this, so they can develop connections with people who may not have had the same opportunities or experience they have had in their lives,” said Peterson. “A partnership like this goes a long way for our players to learn how to become role models in the community especially if they have aspirations to continue their playing careers at a professional level.”
Everyone had a chance to talk, get autographs and take photos. Several of the pen pals exchanged information and plan to stay in touch even once the season has ended. The individuals from Open Sky attended the game that evening and Lori Holden, an individual served by the agency, got to take home a pop-fly ball after it landed near her and a kind baseball fan helped her grab the ball.
Since 2015 the Bravehearts have hosted a Pen Pal Club, but 2021 was the first year the Bravehearts partnered with Open Sky to get in contact with those individuals served by the organization. The Bravehearts Pen Pal Club is sponsored by Cornerstone Bank and Beltone.
Open Sky is proud to partner with several local sports teams to ensure that the individuals served by the agency have every opportunity to be a part of the Central Mass community.
About Open Sky Community Services:
Open Sky was formed through the 2018 affiliation of Alternatives Unlimited and The Bridge of Central Massachusetts. With over 100 programs throughout Central Massachusetts, the organization provides services and supports to more than 4,900 adults, young adults and youth with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, brain injury, substance use disorders, homelessness or other complex challenges. Open Sky also provides services and supports for LGBTQIA+ youth through its Safe Homes program, as well as expert training for human service professionals and school personnel on evidence-based practices and best practice treatment models through the Bridge Training Institute.
For more information about Open Sky, visit openskycs.org