Major Leaguers team with deaf workers to build homes for earthquake victims

From the ashes of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that in 2013 devastated the Phillipines island province of Bohol, a partnership rose, through a grant from the Players Trust, between Major League Baseball players, the local government and an organization serving the deaf that has helped restore homes and hope for displaced families in the village of Sagbayan.

In the Philippines, where deafness is often misunderstood and deaf children in particular are often subject to mistreatment and abuse, the International Deaf Education Association (http://www.ideadeaf.org) has a mission to identify deaf individuals and to help educate and employ them. With contributions from the Players Trust and land donations from the city government in Sagbayan, deaf workers from IDEA built the Sagbayan Hope Village -- 50 brand new homes for families displaced by the earthquake -- over 12 months.

"They loved being the heroes of the story," Rhonda Hillabush, sponsorship director for IDEA, said of their deaf workers. "They were so proud of the homes that they built, so excited to give back."

On a rainy day in January, the workers and displaced families gathered for a "turnover" ceremony during which the families were finally able to move into the their new homes.

"[The families] were shocked and amazed by the beautiful work," Hillabush said. "They didn't think that the deaf were capable of that, but their workmanship is amazing."

All 50 families are now settled into their new homes, and many have already begun to make them their own.

"[The players and the Trust] changed the lives of not only the people getting the homes, but our deaf, and gave them the opportunity to really shine and show off what they're capable of," Hillabush said. "We're so grateful for the opportunity."

Through the Players Trust, Major Leaguers contribute their time, money and celebrity to call attention to important issues affecting the needy and to help encourage others to get involved in their own communities. More info at www.PlayersTrust.org.