By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A lot of Phillies fans have fond memories of Shane Victorino’s time with the team, especially from their 2008 World Series run. However, the former Phillie may have had his greatest impact, not on the field, but on a North Philadelphia community.
On September 22, 2011 the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club opened. Victorino’s foundation put up a million dollars to renovate the 105-year-old building to deliver a state of the art facility for young people like 14-year-old member Demetrius Jackson.
“It means he’s a great person. He did all of that for us, he did that just for the children of the community,” Jackson said.
Martisha Hardy, program assistant at the club who also grew up going to Boys & Girls Clubs, recalls that day when the club reopened. Victorino spoke with tears in his eyes. “You could actually see the emotion on his face that this actually meant a lot to him personally,” she said.
The former all-star centerfielder definitely left an impression on the kids that day. Hardy said he spent hours with them.”(The kids) were like, ‘Wow, he really came, he really stayed and he really played with us! It meant a lot to those kids,” she explained.
Now the club has a state of the art computer lab, a new gymnasium, teen center, game room and a playground which Victorino would return to on a few occasions.
“When he walked through the door he was totally overwhelmed,” said Anthony Powell, unit director, describing a Victorino visit in January. “He had his children with him, had one child on the hip and he just kind of jumped in and played ping-pong with the kids. Then he went downstairs and started playing basketball. He was really pleased to see the building filled with kids and seeing the return of his investment.”
The new building has been a blessing for the children and the parents or guardians who care for them according to Juanita Stevenson, president of the parents committee at the club.
“(The kids) didn’t have anywhere else to go and when he opened this place, everybody in the neighborhood just jumped at the chance to come,” she said.
Even though Shane will be on a different team, on a different coast, he will continue to have fans in Philadelphia, especially at this Boys & Girls Club that he helped build. “His name’s going to be forever on the building,” Stevenson said. “And we will forever remember him and what he has done for us.”