Veterans program may benefit ball field at Cape school

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A baseball field on the grounds of Cape Girardeau's junior high and middle schools could soon benefit from a planned community service project of a St. Louis-based veterans program.

The Mission Continues, which offers community service "fellowships" to veterans, has selected Cape Girardeau as one of three locations in the region where veteran and civilian volunteers will be recruited to participate in half-day events to landscape and improve the grounds of the school's baseball field. The Cape Girardeau event is set for June 9.

Fox Sports Midwest, a partner of the organization, is helping promote the project group, known as "Summer Service Slam" with commercials during televised home games of the St. Louis Cardinals and other media, said Emily Rodenbeck, a communications associate with The Mission Continues.

A local veteran, Robert Wake, of Malden, Mo., is organizing the project as part of his fellowship with the organization. Rodenbeck said the partnership between The Mission Continues and Fox Sports Midwest began last year and resulted in similar projects being completed around the state. The most recent project so far this year was in Columbia, Mo., where around 225 volunteers also improved a local baseball field.

Fox Sports Midwest sends correspondents to interview volunteers during the events and the interviews are used to create spots for advertising upcoming projects. Announcer and former Cardinals pitcher Al Hrabosky will also make an appearance during the Cape Girardeau project.

Wake said the fellowships, as well as the projects, help participants and recruited volunteers who are veterans provide a service for their community as well as reconnect with their communities after they may have been away for some time due to their service.

"What it's all about is taking veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and giving them a purpose. It's a way for them to continue to serve," he said.

Members of the organization who do fellowships receive a stipend and their projects can vary depending on the needs of their community, Wake said. Wake hopes to recruit up to 250 volunteers for the Cape Girardeau project, which will include landscaping work around the field, repair and installation of goal posts and foul poles and several painting projects including bleachers, dugouts and scoreboards.

Neil Glass, the Cape Girardeau School District's administrative services director, said the work done on the field will save the school district between $15,000 and $20,000 in maintenance and repair costs. No improvement work has been done to the field for about five years, he said. The field is used primarily by community-based youth leagues.

Glass also said the district wants to be associated with the project to show support for veterans.

The organization depends primarily on local donations of supplies for projects, but the school district will provide a few, Glass said. Rodenbeck said the organization has already received a donation of paint worth $5,000 from the Behr company and a $1,200 donation from the local Lowes home improvement store that will go toward the Cape Girardeau project.

Wake said both veterans and civilians are encouraged to sign up. It is set for 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 9 at the ball field. Volunteers can sign up by calling 314-588-8805.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

205 Caruthers Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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