Fenway helping out NH families
CONCORD – Boston Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon has made a living painting the corners of home plate. Turns out he can handle a brush, too.
Melancon and teammates Chris Carpenter and Ryan Kalish made a visit on Wednesday to work for Families in Transition – New Horizons, a non-profit organization offering affordable housing and social services in Concord and Manchester.
Some previously homeless women and their children stopped by to meet the Red Sox painting crew, part of the team’s Holiday Fest and “100 Acts of Kindness.” At one point, Melancon had two paint rollers and was determined to finish a bedroom wall inside a brick building at Bicentennial Square in downtown Concord.
Maureen Beauregard, president of Families in Transition – New Horizons (FIT), informed the players about the staggering amount of homelessness in New Hampshire and how children are affected. In 2011, FIT received more than 4,000 requests for assistance and provided housing for 517 residents – meeting about 14 percent of the demand.
The Red Sox didn’t need any motivation.
“We’re excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity to help,” Melancon, wearing his No. 37 jersey, said. “The unemployment rate is at 7.9 percent now, and it’s sad that such a great country like this has so many unemployed and homeless people. Hopefully we can help out. That’s why we’re here.”
Kalish, an outfielder, also has been helping friends in New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy in the past month.
“We’re pretty fortunate people. We’ve been blessed and have some talent to be in this situation. To see what’s going on out there, it makes us more grateful for what we have,” Kalish said. “Just being here today will hopefully bring some attention (to FIT) and get people involved.”
FIT coordinators have been receiving 10-15 calls per day from individuals seeking assistance. The organization offers 200 affordable apartment units designated for homeless women with or without children.
Beauregard couldn’t believe her eyes when the triumvirate of Red Sox talent – in addition to Wally the Green Monster and other team ambassadors – began helping out.
“It’s surreal. It’s remarkable. These guys are really busy and yet they’re taking time to give back to the community,” she said. “I started the organization 20 years ago with five women and their children. Who would have thought that 20 years later, we’d have 200 apartments and house more than 500 people – and the Red Sox are visiting us. It’s off-the-charts exciting.”
Carpenter (not to be confused with the Cy Young Award-winning Chris Carpenter from Trinity High of Manchester) said he is hoping to earn a spot in the Boston bullpen and also become an impact player in the community.
“It’s always nice to kind of step away from baseball and help people out and appreciate things more,” Carpenter said. “When you learn about homelessness, it makes you think, ‘What can I do to help?’ It’s a good feeling to get out and do something about it.”