On Deck Foundation

Est. 2002

About Us

To the On Deck Family,

It was November of 2002 and I was on my way to work at a boy's foster facility. I passed by the middle school where some of my boys played on the school football team. I stopped and watched for a while, until I saw something that would change my life forever. It was small but it meant so much more.

As I watched, there were about 50 kids involved in this flag football game. Three of them happened to be my boys. I noticed that one of them didn't have any cleats. I found the other two and noticed the same thing. As I looked around, they were the only boys without cleats! How can you expect A+ grades, with D- materials?! I realized at that point that I had seen enough. If cleats were just a phone call away, what else was just a phone call away?

Two years prior to that point, I had the privilege of working with the boys for the first time. At this point, I was still involved in professional baseball and like I had done a thousand times before, I went up to the local high school to workout on the field. This time was different.

Across the street from the high school, there had always been this facility but I never knew what it was. Actually, I never took the time to find out. There ended up being only one space left to park and it happened to be right in front of this facility. As I pulled in, a new sign caught my eye. It said, “Children’s Center."

I saw the sign and then thought that maybe I could play catch with some of these kids or maybe just hang out and see what they do. I had done some clinics for kids and coached high school sports. I walked into the office and explained to the receptionist my intentions and she replied, "I'm sorry, but these are protected kids." What did that mean?

 After a month-long background check and clearance, I had my first day with the boys. With the help of many great individuals and residential counselors, we basically woke the boys up and put them to bed with everything in between. These kids are amazing and some of the bravest humans you will ever meet. The one thing they all have in common is bad luck. It's not their fault they are there. Remember, they are still kids. Foster facilities and group homes are NOT juvenile detention centers!

The facility, which is one of many, is set up to house about 88 boys ranging in age from 5-17 years old. Children are in facilities like these due to circumstances they had nothing to do. The foster system has no face and does not discriminate. It consists of children both male and female, of all races and religions. There are the healthy and the sick, and the strong and the afraid. The majority of them have experienced abuse in one form or another. If you believe that you are living in an accidental world, you then start to believe you are an accident. Is it their fault? Why should they trust anybody?

We've all heard the story about the tree falling in the woods with no one around, does it make a sound? Well, when a child graduates from anything, scores the game-winning goal, hits his or her first home run, wins a writing or art contest, with no one around, did it really happen?

The system and these facilities do what they can for these children, but it is not enough. These children need voices. Awareness is our biggest goal along with opportunity for these kids. Somewhere among these children are some of our next presidents, Nobel Prize winners, Firemen, Doctors, etc. We want them to have an opportunity to say no. That just means that at least they had the chance to say yes!

I am very honored to be associated with the people making the On Deck Foundation a vehicle for awareness and hope for these children. Tonight, these children lay their heads without a care in the world of what tomorrow may bring. With your help, we intend to make a difference in the lives of these children. Some of these children go to bed not knowing what tomorrow may bring. It's gotten so bad for some that they don't care about what tomorrow may bring. It's time to show them what is possible. It could have been any one of us; we somehow dodged the bad luck arrow!

Underprivileged and at-risk youth extend outside the foster systems walls. The On Deck Foundation has been set up to address and make aware the needs, as best to the foundation's ability, of these youth of all fundamental levels. They are all still our children.

Thank you to everyone involved thus far and for those to come!

 

Brett P. Pierce

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