A day of giving for Rays in community

A day of giving for Rays in community

ST. PETERSBURG -- Two celebratory community events took place for the Rays on Wednesday.

In the morning, Chris Archer and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman helped celebrate the grand opening of new Starting Right, Now housing at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Haven South in St. Petersburg.

Starting Right, Now ends homelessness for youth through one-on-one mentoring, providing a stable home, obtaining employment, teaching financial literacy/life skills and promoting educational achievement.

Silverman spoke at the ceremony, as did St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman. Several testamonials from those benefitting from Starting Right, Now added emotion to the day.

Silverman told an audience of approximately 300 that Starting Right, Now is "a holistic approach to ending homelessness, one child at a time."

Archer did not speak, but he is heavily involved and plans on continuing to stay involved.

"I found out about this organization and came to an event in October," Archer said. "And it was moving. ... seeing the passion that all the people who work for the organization have, I think I have an equal amount of passion, and now I feel like I've found a program that parallels everything I'm about: Altering and inspiring the youth and helping to change the world."

Later in the day, Rays team president Brian Auld presented the keys to a new Habitat for Humanity South St. Petersburg home to Jason and Rashida Cherman and their four children.

Over the past four weeks, Rays employees have supplied 100 percent of the more than 850 corporate volunteer hours to help build the home in St. Petersburg.

"It means so much to our staff to be able to come out here and be able to see the physical manifestation of their physical hours, and we get to know the families who move into these homes pretty well," Auld said. "They're active with our staff. They helped put up the building with our staff. And when you're able to see the folks that are helping, and get to know them up close and personal, it just makes it that much more meaningful."

Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Pinellas County, noted that it was the second home they've built with the Rays.

"And they've obviously made such an impact in the community through all the stuff they do with so many non-profits," Sutton said. "So we're just happy to be partnered up with them."

The project is in line with the Rays' stated mission, which Auld recited: "Energize the community through the magic of Rays baseball. This is certainly one way that we do it."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.