I can see the progress from year to year in the little village of Bonagua near Moca in the Dominican Republic, where One Child Matters established the Mission Valiente project. Not just in the development of the facilities, but in the way the community is growing along with it. As the facility has grown, the local people have taken ownership of it. A bond is developing with the community.
I take a very simple viewpoint of my involvement with the Mission Valiente project: I'm there to spread the love of Jesus Christ and help take care of the kids.
One Child Matters is a worldwide organization, but Garret Anderson and Aaron Myette, both former players, were the first people to support the Mission Valiente project, and for the last five years or so I've had the opportunity to be involved in this great program too. I was there again in December with my agent, Randy Rowley, and Kyle Gibson, a pitcher in the Twins organization.
It's in a rural area, so there was room to build a baseball field out of what was essentially a cow pasture. We've seen that come along. There's also a basketball court, a library and a kitchen with staff people to assist the kids and parents who visit. In recent months we've added a generator, a big well and a filtration system to make that well water drinkable for the people in the village.
Each year, more and more children and parents see what is happening there and realize that it's a good, safe place. Now close to 200 kids are served at Mission Valiente. Some of their parents come by, too, and help take care of the field.
It's just amazing to be around the kids and to watch their self-esteem grow by the day. It's gratifying and it makes me feel good to be part of it, but that's not why we put our time and energy into a project like Mission Valiente. It's about giving to people who are less fortunate. I want everyone to have the best lives they can.
It's like the Bible passage in Luke 12:48: "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required."
Justin Masterson, a right-handed pitcher for the Indians, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and went to high school in Ohio. Through two starts this season, he is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA.