Players from the New York Yankees honored the youth and mentors of the NYPD Blue Chips program.
The NYPD Blue Chips is a mentorship program run by the Patrol Services Bureau designed to strengthen the bond between youth and officers serving the community through sports teams that are coached by members of the department, but even more than that, the initiative also serves as a surrogate family for young people.
On July 12, members of the Yankees paid a visit to the NYPD Police Academy located at 130-30 28th Avenue in Queens to meet the Blue Chips. Albert Abreu, Miguel Castro, Nestor Cortes, Ron Marinacco, Wandy Peralta and JP Sears listened intently as members of the program recounted touching memories and how it has changed their life.
“They are always here texting me asking if I need help, they always give me advice about everything that I am going through. If I am having problems at school they come, they help. They always call and check up on me,” Jason Gonzalez said, a Blue Chip said.
The Blue Chips not only teaches youth teamwork through sports, but it also likewise attempts to keep at-risk teens from gang activity and gun violence while strengthening the bond with the NYPD. Chief of Training Juanita Holmes understood both the patience and trust needed on both sides in order to make the program work.
“Just the relationships that have been built as a result of this–thank you to all the mentors, mentees, and members. This is a relationship that doesn’t end here, doesn’t end with a season, it doesn’t end because you go off and go to college,” Holmes said, believing lifelong friendships have been formed.
The Yankees recognize that sporting activities such as the Blue Chips can have a profound effect on reducing violence through team building and mentorships that ripple into the communities at large.
As part of the Pinstripes’ HOPE Week, during which the Yankees shine a spotlight on a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, the baseball stars donated $10,000 to the program.
After the team presented the check, the young players swarmed the stars taking selfies together and having caps and baseballs signed by their sporting heroes. The interaction left smiles on all involved.
“It is awesome. We are signing autographs–taking pictures. Hopefully they can get inspired,” Nestor Cortes said.