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Habitat For Humanity and Akron Aeros team up for 2013 season

NATALIE PEACOCK
Legal News Reporter

Published: April 29, 2013

Being safe at home doesn’t just stop at the baseball park. It is also what Habitat for Humanity works to do every day across the country for people trying to get reestablished and back into safe, quality homes.

That is why the Akron Aeros and the Habitat for Humanity of Summit County have teamed up for the 2013 Eastern League season. At every home game the Aeros will be holding a 50/50 raffle. Half of the revenue will go to the winner of the raffle and the other half will go directly to Habitat.

Ken Babby, owner of the Aeros, exudes passionate about philanthropic endeavors and said he knew Habitat and the Aeros would make a perfect pair.

“Habitat has been recognized not just here in Akron but nationally as a philanthropic group that goes above the rest and is able to fundamentally make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “If we can play a small role in that, we think it can go a long way.”

The partnership first came about when Babby met Rochelle Fisher, director of the Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, at an Akron Leadership event.

“Ken saw on my nametag that I was from Habitat for Humanity,” she said. “He told me how enamored he was with the organization overall and about how he had volunteered with different habitat affiliates in the past wherever he had lived. He said he thought we should definitely try to connect.”

Eager to get started, Babby brought in Aeros General Manager, Jim Pfander to help with the brainstorming process.

“Rochelle and I hit it off right away,” said Pfander. “We kicked around some ideas and I had seen this kind of raffle with the electronic ticket system when I was at a Tampa Bay Ray’s game. I said this would be a great fundraiser for us and a really great way to get Habitat for Humanity of Summit County into the public eye.”

Pfander is excited about the new partnership and its possibilities.

“So far through the first home stand, I think we’ve been able to raise a lot of money even with our rainouts,” he said. “So I’m really excited to see what is going to happen after a 71 home-game season.”

Besides the 50/50 raffle, the Aeros will also play public service announcements in between innings on the scoreboard with little “fast facts” about Habitat For Humanity.

“So many people think that this is free home we’re giving away and that’s just not the case,” Fisher said. “The families do purchase the home on a zero interest mortgage. They’re involved in building it, and they attend homeowner education classes. Our hope with this partnership is that many more people will get to know us better.”

Fisher said that the money they receive from the 50/50 raffles will go directly into an Adopt-a-House fund and be a part of a house that Habitat will build in the Akron area.

“This is new for the Aeros, using this electronic 50/50 program,” she said. “It’s certainly new for us, being the recipient charity of all 71 home games. It’s pretty amazing.”

For Fisher, baseball is not only a partner - it is in her heritage. Her father, John Sibbio, is a member of The Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, located at Canal Park.

“My dad coached travel baseball games for about 20 years,” she said. “He was also an umpire and had two teams that traveled to the Junior Olympics. One year they came home with a bronze and one year with a silver medal. Baseball has been a part of my upbringing my whole life.”

Pfander also has local ties to the baseball world in Northeast Ohio.

“I worked for a gentleman by the name of Mike Veeck,” he said. “His father Bill owned the Cleveland Indians the last time the Indians won the World Series in 1948. His big thing was that a ballpark needs a community more than a community needs a ballpark.”

When it comes to the Akron community, both Babby and Pfander strongly believe that the Aeros should play a leadership role.

“It’s a big part of what we do,” Pfander said. “One of the things we can’t do is just swing open the gates and expect people to come in. I think it’s really important to be a true community partner in everything that we do.”

Pfander said the Aeros administrative staff already volunteers in the community.

“Once a month what I like to do is send the staff out into the community,” he said. “We close down the office and go out to volunteer. We’d love to go help Habitat build a house and be a part of that process. It’s a great way to get out into the community and roll up your sleeves and, for a day, give your time to help a great cause.”

The Aero’s staff has tackled such diverse projects as serving lunch at the Haven of Rest and setting up for a Diabetes Foundation event at Quaker Square. They plan to work with the Downtown Akron Partnership for a downtown clean up in May.

In his first six months of ownership, Babby quickly made volunteerism the focus of his organization.

“We need to be active in philanthropic organizations and giving back to the community that allows us to do what we do,” he said. “It really is a two-way partnership not just with Habitat but with all our partners to able to make sure we’re doing what’s right and that we’re visible outside of Canal Park.”

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity of Summit County visit www.hfhsummitcounty.org or for more information on the Akron Aeros visit, www.akronaeros.com.


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