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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2005 > Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award to be Presented Annually

Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award to be Presented Annually

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (June 14, 2005) – In recognition of the vital volunteer service being performed by thousands of dedicated people around the country, Little League International has created the Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award.

The Little League Urban Initiative was established to provide assistance for eligible leagues and aid local volunteers in supplying a constructive athletic outlet for children, while fostering a sense of community and fair play. Now in its fifth year, the Urban Initiative plays a significant role in locating and assisting in the revitalization of fields and facilities to best serve children and families in densely populated areas where Little League may not have had a presence in the past.

The Little League Urban Initiative was a centerpiece of "A World of Opportunity - Little League Baseball Capital Campaign for the Future," a successful effort begun in 1999 and completed in 2001, to raise $20 million for a variety of Little League projects.

Several organizations have contributed to the Little League Urban Initiative. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation donated $1 million. Other major supporters are listed here:

Major League Baseball
Washington D.C. Parks and Recreation Department
The Wilson Sporting Goods Company
Chicago Park District
American Honda Motor Company
Houston Recreation and Parks Department
Comcast/The Comcast Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Popular Mechanics Magazine
The Teammate for Kids Foundation
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The City of Tampa, Fla.
The City of Atlanta

Because of that support, the Little League Urban Initiative provides assistance packages for eligible leagues that assist the local volunteer group with equipment acquisition, capital improvement cash grants, field improvement and renovation, access to Little League Baseball and Softball education and training programs, advocacy, and networking. Little League Urban Initiative programs are now operating in more than 100 communities in the U.S., with hundreds of new teams formed in the past few years.

“Little League was in the process of developing an award to recognize the service of those who make the Urban Initiative a success, and we were approached by Tim and Emily Paster, the son and daughter of Howard and Gail Paster,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Tim and Emily wanted to create an endowment to honor their parents, who recognize the value of the Little League Urban Initiative and have supported it. So it was decided that the award would be endowed by gifts to Little League in honor of Howard and Gail Paster, and the award itself would be named in their honor.”

Mr. Paster is the president of the Little League Foundation Board of Trustees, is executive vice president, public relations/public affairs, at WPP Group, and was chairman of “A World of Opportunity - Little League Baseball Capital Campaign for the Future.” Mrs. Paster is director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The award will annually acknowledge a Little League volunteer who is involved with a Little League organization participating in the Urban Initiative Program, who has a track record of solving problems that may prevent their Little League program from operating, and who has shown a commitment to providing a positive Little League experience for the children and adults within their community. Often, volunteers in Little League Urban Initiative programs must overcome difficult obstacles to make the benefits of Little League available to at-risk or disadvantaged children and their families.

Nominations for the award will be made using a form similar to that which is now used for Little League’s other awards programs (Volunteer of the Year, Mom of the Year, Good Sport of the Year, and Challenger Award). Nominations could come from district administrators, players, volunteers, or other interested individuals.

“As with Little League’s other awards presented each year, this is a symbolic presentation,” Mr. Keener said. “With more than 100 local Little Leagues that are part of the Urban Initiative program, we will recognize one person each year to represent those volunteers whose selfless service makes the Urban Initiative successful in their communities.”

As with the other award recipients, the person who receives the Howard and Gail Paster League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award will receive a trip to the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport to accept the honor.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.