All Dorchester Sports and Leadership (ADSL) received $25,000 in funding and equipment donations from Amazon last weekend. The gift included a collection of new bats, balls, slow pitch machines, and catcher suits presented during an event held on June 19 at Dorchester’s Walsh Park.
ADSL’s executive director, Candice Gartley, explained that the connection was made possible in part through an assist from Jerome Smith, Amazon’s manager of external affairs who was familiar with ADSL and other programs from his previous role as a key aide to former Mayor Martin Walsh.
The donation included $10,000 worth of equipment, as well as $15,000 in funding to be used at the program’s discretion which, according to Gartley, will go toward hiring and paying staff as well as a new storage unit for Town Field.
The timely injection of dollars and gear comes at a crucial time for ADSL as it begins to reboot its full slate of programming post-pandemic and welcome back neighborhood kids to the city’s second largest softball program.
“Coming out of the pandemic we didn’t know what to expect,” Gartley told the Reporter. “We knew there would be this huge rush to the outdoors. As an organization in the summer, we grow exponentially, so we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to meet demand, or that we wouldn’t be ready.”
The program’s softball league was in need of specific help.
“This year we registered 250 girls, 20 teams, and 45 coaches, so there are a lot of moving parts,” said Gartley. “We’ve been begging and borrowing for the past few years: taping up bats, borrowing old equipment from families, so this really was necessary to move our program to the next level. It’s just a huge, massive success.”
While ADSL successfully ran a safe version of their softball season last summer, this year’s season is poised to attract a larger turnout in addition to the return of regular summer programming, which will require more staff, more volunteers, and more resources in general.
“We’re all so incredibly grateful for this,” said Gartley. “We need to be ready to welcome back our families, and the outdoors is the safest place to do that...a lot is made about every Bostonian living ten minutes from a park, but if that park isn’t safe or isn’t activated with activities, that statistic means nothing. This is a great opportunity to activate a park that generally is underutilized. It will really make a difference.”
For more information on ADSL services and programming, visit alldorchestersports.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that Dorchester Youth Collaborative dissolved in March. DYC has merged with MissionSafe to form Safe City Dorchester, a nonprofit that will retain the same staff, structure and programming of DYC and operate out of the same space on Dorchester Avenue under DYC Founder/Executive Director and Safe City Dorchester Program Director Emmett Folgert.