Fields of Hopes: The Life We Live [Interview] by Cesar Diaz

Photo Credit: Cesar Diaz/Latino Sports

Flushing, NY – Sunday night at Citi Field for the third game of the three-game series between the New York Mets (70-66) and Washington Nationals (79-56) is the perfect way to conclude my weekend of baseball.

There’s the life we want and there’s the life we live. Regardless of what’s handed to us, that’s life.

In the case Esperanza Ramirez, there’s the life she wanted, the life she was handed and now, the life she’s created for herself. For as long as I’ve know Esperanza, she’s always been passionate about baseball and her native country, Dominican Republic.

Months of hearing her passionate desire for change in her native country convinced me that she was going to make it happen. A few years ago, one night over dinner with friends, she had told us about her idea of creating a nonprofit organization that she was going to name Field of Hopes. I figure the best way to support her cause was to invest in it.
Without missing a beat, I reached into my wallet and made a $20 donation. I understand that $20 isn’t much but the meaning behind it was enough to convince Esperanza that I believed one day she will be running her nonprofit organization, Field of Hopes.

With that said, here’s my interview with Esperanza Ramirez…

Where did your passion for baseball originate from?

As a Dominican, I think baseball is in my blood and ingrained in my soul. Which is not typical for a girl.My love for baseball began growing up watching Licey and the Yankees.

This was encouraged by my parents, my Mom, who watched every novela, also watched entire baseball games and knew players by name and stats, and my Dad as a young man played 2nd base but was a better pitcher who would pitch many games consecutively.

These were some of the influences that powered my passion for baseball. This all led to an offer from Byron Hunter and Julio Pabon to intern with Latino Sport.

How has baseball impacted your life socially, spiritually and mentally?

Baseball has had a big impact on my everyday life. It has become more than a hobby, like a way of life. It takes my mind off of life’s issues. Sixteen years ago, I started to coach my son’s T-Ball team. With this, my involvement with baseball grew into enhancing the life of the kids in the community.

It became a time consuming addiction to ensure that every child a had a positive experience playing the game. This in turn encouraged me to do more for the kids. I eventually became the Asst Director of the league and this planted the seed for Field of Hopes.

Tell me about your organization, Field of Hopes?

Field of Hopes, Inc. (FOH, Inc) is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children living in poverty by supporting athletic programs in poverty stricken areas within the United States and abroad.

Using baseball as a uniting force, FOH. Inc. seeks to stimulate personal growth through sponsorship by providing much needed athletic and school supplies to the children participating in these targeted baseball leagues.

Field of Hopes is run by an exceptional group of board members who volunteer their free time. Because we all have full-time jobs, at least twice a year we organize events to raise funds for the cost of programs in the Dominican Republic and in our community here in NYC.

The programs include English classes every Saturday in DR, assistance to an elderly home in DR, and back to school supplies in NYC. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the programs.

Where did the idea come from? How long has it been in existence?

The idea for Field of Hopes was conceived while working as the Asst Dir of Harlem Little League and seeing the need for help with the basic necessities of the game, like uniforms and equipment. I wanted not only to help in my community, but others including my home in the Dominican Republic.

I also wanted to get involved with helping with education, school supplies, and mentoring. Field of Hopes has been operating for almost 10 years, since 2007.

What has been your struggles behind the creation and day-to-day operations of Field of Hopes? What has been your scarifices?

The struggles of operating Field of Hopes stem from the fact that we all have full-time jobs and have to manage and coordinate our time for meetings, events and the programs. Because we don’t take a salary, it’s difficult to attract volunteers to offer help with the organization.

What are the joys and triumphs behind your organization?

Field of Hopes is like a family. A group of people who came together with a common goal…to help children. The work we do with the org opened my eyes and made me become more grateful and appreciative of the things we take for granted.

For example, buying a backpack and school supplies for children who are less fortunate and seeing the happiness on the face of the parent, is what brings joy to my heart.

If you want to read the article on the original website click here

Field of Hopes is proud to announce the sponsorship program designed to teach English as a second language at La Escuela Juan Pablo School in the Dominican Republic. The program started back in January of this year, runs every Saturday and currently has 40 students ranging from 5 to 8 years old. Many of the parents of these children also participate in the class that runs from 8:00am - 4:00pm. A special thank you goes out to the program’s director; Ms. Estela Garcia Hernandez!

October 30, 2014

On October 30, 2014 Field of Hopes (FOH) helped a local organization, Road to Success (RTS), host a breast cancer awareness event at local Public School 57, located in the East Harlem in New York. RTS students wanted to focus on the major epidemic of breast cancer because this disease has personally impacted a lot of their lives.

About 1:8 women in the U.S. alone will develop breast cancer. This disease has claimed the lives of 40,000 women in 2014 alone. Road to Success decided not to just donate but to hold an event to make an impact in the community and school.

The festivities began with a bake sale. A long line began to form, not just to fill their many faces with delicious desserts but to also fill the support jar, in which all proceeds went to a breast-cancer awareness. As the staff, all decked out in pink, began the sale of the amazing cakes, cookies, and pies; the main event was getting set up.

Everyone made their way outside when the "Capture the Cure" tournament was about to begin. Capture the Cure is a spin-off of the Capture the Flag game in which opposing teams square off in order to retrieve the other teams flag.

Field of Hopes donated an autographed Mariano Rivera bat to be auctioned, in addition to a monetary donation of 500 dollars. I had the distinct honor of refereeing the tournament. I watched as the children not only enjoyed the activities and festivities but gained knowledge of the importance of good health and the effect that proper education of this disease can have. The event received rave reviews! It was a huge success that raised a lot of money as well as awareness for the cause.

August 12, 2014

On August 12, 2014, Field of Hopes Inc. once again visited a pre-school in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. As in the past, upon pulling up to Centro Tecnologico Comunitario, I couldn’t help but smile, this building screamed “early childhood center”. The school was painted in bright, inviting colors, foreshadowing the atmosphere that would be found inside.

The walls of “Espacio de Esperanza”, the room in which the students are primarily taught, were adorned with artwork and posters that were hand-made by the staff and students. The shelves were filled with arts and craft supplies, science equipment and math manipulatives, all of which were gotten through donations, many of which were provided by FOH. Best of all, the teachers were brimming with pride and enthusiasm for both their students and their school.

It was an absolute thrill to once again be able to personally take part in donating school supplies and sports equipment to this amazing school. It was heartwarming to hear the parents and grandparents singing the praises of Centro Tecnologico Comunitario and thanking Field of Hopes Inc. for wanting to help their children. More importantly, I got to see first-hand the smiles on the students faces as they received their new book bags, notebooks, crayons, markers and pencils. This memory will last a lifetime.

Centro Tecnologico Comunitario together with Field of Hopes Inc. will make a difference for these students by giving them the foundations and the tools that they need to succeed. I look forward to being a part of these children’s lives for many years to come with the hope that I will make as much of an impact on them as they have made on me.

July 9, 2013

On May 23rd, 2013, Field Of Hopes founder Esperanza Ramirez, hosted a fund raiser event at club 809 in Washington Heights. The event, which was well organized, provided a myriad of special guests.

There were celebrities who attended -such as Luis Antonio, an acclaimed actor, and Dwight Gooden, pitching phenom from the Mets and Yankees -whom both could not have been more gracious and humble with their time for the event. There were many items auctioned for the benefit of kids in the F.O.H organization.

One could not help but feel the dedication and effort put forth in this organization after witnessing the turnout of this great cause. It was truly an event that, just hearing about, does not do diligence to actually having been a part of, which I am proud of and glad I did.

Judging by the positive response to the event, there is absolutely no doubt it will grow in the immediate future. Which is a winning situation for the intended target - the kids!

July 3, 2013

Being a firm believer in what you plant in the ground, nourish, and care for, blossoms into something beautiful and productive, nothing personifies that analogy more than the Field Of Hopes organization, and the dedication its staff exemplifies. F.O.H sponsored a pizza party for 20 kids at P.S. 57 in East Harlem, on July 14, 2013. The school did not have the funds for the event, but F.O.H was able to donate baseballs, water bottles, hats and posters from various baseball players. The organization provides many outlets to disadvantaged kids, yet one of the most influential gifts one can give to these kids is the gift of time.

Recalling spending a few moments with a 7 year old every morning before he went to school, playing catch, asking about his homework- which was at the time just passing time for me -reduced me to tears when he confided that I was the closest thing to a father that he had! Since that encounter, the understanding was that what may be an ounce of your time can have pounds of influence in shaping kid's minds, and it is strongly recommended that if anyone can donate time to a great organization such as F.O.H, they would be contributing to an uphill challenge of not loosing our youth to negative influences.

F.O.H encourages and welcomes all participates in our endeavors for a brighter future for our kids, as the F.O.H slogan professes; to "changing lives, one kid at a time!"

April 2012
Dear Field of Hope Supporters,

We apologize for the brief delay in providing consistent information on Field of Hope’s endeavors, however, we are forging ahead in 2012 and want to let you know about a couple of projects that have touched the lives of children this year

In early April 2012, Field of Hopes assisted the KIPP Infinity Charter School by providing equipment and support to launch the school’s first baseball team. In total, Field of Hopes was able to provide the KIPP Infinity Baseball Team with over $2000 worth of baseball equipment, including gloves, helmets and a pitching machine, plus 100 tickets to a NY Mets/Yankees game. The new DIAMOND baseball gloves given to the school were provided by Mike Valentino, to whom we give our special thanks.

Field of Hopes is proud to have made a significant donation of time and resources to the Liga de Miguel Rodriguez located in Cuidad de Valverde Mao, Dominican Republic. The league, which provides baseball to over 300 kids in the area, has been in desperate need of uniforms. In visits to D.R. over the past year, Field of Hopes has been able to provide over $6000 worth of baseball equipment to the league, including full uniforms for 7 teams.

Field of Hopes also was fortunate enough to receive the necessary support to donate clothes and baseball uniforms to the children’s ministry of A New Beginning International Ministry in East Harlem. We were told that the kids were extremely happy to receive the donation and are now starting a baseball team.

Field of Hopes would like to thank Mr. Robert Hoffman of the Manhattan Youth Baseball Academy for his unyielding support to local youth. Mr. Hoffman has donated both his time and use of the Academy’s outstanding training facilities to help local youth better develop their talents. Thank You, Robert!

Field of Hopes wishes to thank you for your continued support. We will continue our mission to provide resources to children and families in need. We appreciate the support from our cherished communities both here and in the Caribbean. We look forward to bringing joy to as many children as possible through an active life including baseball this year and thank you all for the love and support.

Sincere Thanks,
Esperanza Ramirez
Field of Hopes, Inc.

March 20, 2009
The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame had a special ‘Hitter’s Hall of Fame Induction Event’ on Friday March 20th, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame at Tropicana Field at One Tropicana Drive in St. Petersburg, Florida.Esperanza Ramirez and sons were invited to this beatifull event.

Over 600 guests, the Ted Williams Community Award was presented to New York Yankee catcher Jorge Posada on behalf of the Jorge Posada Foundation, and its work with families and children coping with the medical condition of Craniosynostosis.

“Thank you to the Ted Williams Museum Hitters Hall of Fame for bestowing such a true honor and recognizing my Foundation’s work and commitment to the community,” said Jorge Posada.

“This institution embodies the very essence of what Mr. Williams is all about and his great contributions to the beautiful game of baseball and beyond and so it is a privilege to be here with all of you today. Laura and I founded The Jorge Posada Foundation to create public awareness and education about Craniosynostosis that affects thousands of families nationally and internationally and the importance of its’ early detection and treatment.”

The evening also included the induction of:
Hitters Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell, Houston Astros
Pitching Wall of Achievement: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Ted Williams Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Lifetime Achievement Award: Stu Sternberg, Principal Owner Tampa Bay Rays
Ted Williams Museum Induction: Buck O'Neil, Kansas City Monarchs
Ted Williams Museum Induction: Eddie Feigner, The King and His Court

December 12, 2009
On 12/12/09 The Boricua Little League held their annual Christmas Dinner. It was a night of joy where sponsors ,parents, players and families shared the holidays and celebrated the big accomplishments. The Boricua All Stars participated this year in six different tournaments. They took second place in five of them. Esperanza Ramirez from FOH was honored with two plaques for her support.

Esperanza stated, “I had the honor of being invited by Rafael Ponce and Mr.Sanchez to Travel to compite in The Disney Tournament. I went with the ok from Bobby Hoffman(MYB) and organized the trip. We took a second team to represent New York. The admiration between the kids was amazing even when they had to play against each other. I have never seen an organization where parents and coaches supported and respected each other at this level. I feel very proud to spend time with all these wonderful kids.”

December 15, 2009
East Harlem, December 15, 2009. The East Harlem Holiday Tree Lighting was a huge success. The festivities commenced at 6:30 PM with Jose Carrero, the Master of Ceremony, introducing himself. The Borinquenos from the Harbor Conservatory Children’s Choir sang two songs. Mr. Carrero read off a list of all those who made the tree lighting possible (see listing below). He then introduced the following individuals who spoke: Mr. Roger Caban, Chairman of the board of Hope Community, Inc., Mr. Nelson Garcia, Executive Director of The East Harlem Business Captial Corporation, Assemblyman Adam Powell IV, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the New York City Council, Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn, Curtis Archer, Executive Director, Harlem Community Development Corporation, Mr. Johnny C. Rivera, Senior Program Director, Community and Government Affairs at Mount Sinai Hospital, Mr. William French from the Franklin Plaza Board of Directors. Mr. Elmore James, a soloist, then sang two beautiful songs.

After the tree lighting two trolley cars were available for those who wish to take a tour of East Harlem’s best restaurants. This writer took at tour which went to Gran Piatto D’oro Restaurant, Madison Cigar Lounge, the SPAHA Cafe, and the FB Lounge. The tour continued on down Lexington Avenue, but this writer had to get home to eat dinner and rest.
All those who participate to make this holiday tree lighting happen and happen so well deserve your praise and patronage. It is great when elements of the community come together to bring about some holiday cheer. The listings below indicate those who made the tree lighting possible.

Lead funding provided by
State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, East Harlem Board of Tourism, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, Con Edison, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Settlement Health, Manhattan Community Board 11, The East Harlem Business Capital Corporation, East Harlem Restaurant and Bar Association, El Barrio’s Operation

Other Supporters:
Field of Hopes Inc,Union Settlement Association, Lott Residence, East Harlem Little League, Manhattan Youth Baseball, Creole Restaurant, Don Pedro’s Restaurant, Dunrite Glass, East Harlem Cafe, El Barrio Hardware, Mr. Nick Lugo, Maxwell Pharmacy, Ricardo’s Steakhouse, Sabor Borriqueno, Stanley Issacs Neighborhood Center, Young Bucks, Inc., Kathleen Benson, Barbara Brenner, Francisco Diaz, David Eastzer, Melinda Velez, Jay Marcus, Sandra Morales De Leon, Carmen Vasquez, Nellie Plummey, Exotic Fragrances, La Fonda Boricua and Tito’s Pizzeria

December 21, 2009
On December 21st, the kids of the baseball program in one of the best schools in East Harlem PS57, received toys from FOH. The Manhattan Youth Baseball Academy gave medals for achievement to the future Major League players. Principal Soto was given a Plaque for his hard work with the kids in the community. Thanks to the Coaches of MYB for the effort put in the afterschool program.

December 22, 2009
On 12/22/09 The 25 Precinct and Field of Hopes held a Christmas Party for 50 kids in the community. Among the guests were Ray Negron from the Yankees, Aris Sakellaridis, Principal of PS 96. Mr. Rios, President of Boricua Little League Rafael Ponce and Mr. Darryl Footman from Community Affairs.

Adgail Rivera from the Explorer Program sang the national anthem, Ray Negron had a heart to heart speech about accomplishing all your dreams. Ray also donated books and signed baseballs. FOH donated a poster signed by Mariano Rivera and Toys. The kids were provided with pizza and dessert.

Special thanks to D.I Edward Caban (Commanding Officer), Frank Grecco, coaches from the baseball program at PS96 and Ramon and Jorge for doing wonderful work with the kids and PO J Rivera, Fabricio Benitez, Rafael Tejeda and Darryl Footman. Without them nothing would had happened.