Jordan Baltimore, founder of the nonprofit, Sharing Empire, which part of New York Empire Baseball, is a former investment banker who will take the players, aged between 10 and 21, to Poland this week where they will not only play and coach the sport, but also volunteer in a kitchen cooking for the children
A Goldman Sachs investment banker-turned-baseball coach will lead a team of six players to Poland where they will teach their skills to orphaned Ukranian refugees.
Jordan Baltimore, founder of the nonprofit, Sharing Empire, which part of New York Empire Baseball, is a former investment banker who will take the players, aged between 10 and 21, to Poland this week where they will not only play and coach the sport, but also volunteer in a kitchen cooking for the children.
The 47-year-old told DailyMail.com that when Russia invaded Ukraine in February, he felt ‘helpless’.
‘I wanted to do more than just send in a donation. I wanted to give them everything I could and bring joy in any way that we could,’ he said.
At first, he started raising money through youth organizations in the ground in Ukraine, and through that he learned about the SOK Foundation which cares for more than 650 orphaned Ukranian refugees who have been living at the OSSA Hotel outside of Warsaw.
Many of the orphaned children, who are between the ages of four and 18, were evacuated at the start of the war from more than 10 orphanages in the Odessa and Kyiv regions.
Baltimore decided to gather his team of baseball ambassadors, including some parents and coaches, to take their passion for the sport to the children. He told DailyMail.com that many of the children they will be coaching had never played or seen the game in real life.
His initial plan, he said, was to head over for a day of coaching, but suddenly it just morphed into this ‘incredible mission.’
‘I went from feeling helpless watching millions of people losing everything and now I feel so special that we have the opportunity to make any impact at all – and now I feel even more special that we’re able to turn this into a humanitarian project that will help all of the children in their orphanage now and in the future,’ Baltimore said.
Some of the baseball ambassadors that are traveling to Warsaw to bring baseball and cheer to some of the Ukranian refugee orphans (pictured left to right) Max Miller, Luke DiMaria, Will Kovesci, Andy Kovesci, David Rosen and Jordan Baltimore
Cole Hebble, 21, one of the assistant coaches traveling to Poland, to share his passion with baseball and the countless lessons it has taught him. Hebble plays baseball for Duke University and started playing ball with Baltimore’s organization when he was 11 years old
Ten-year-old Max Miller, who has been playing baseball with Empire Baseball New York since he was five, is gearing up for the trip too. He is traveling with his mother, Marissa Miller
He said his ‘Player Ambassadors’, including 10-year-old Max Miller and assistant coach Cole Hebble, 21, were excited to share their passion for the game with the orphaned children.
During the four-day trip, Baltimore and the players will not only be playing baseball but also volunteering in a kitchen at a Warsaw train station, cooking and cleaning dishes for those in need of a meal.
On Friday, during their visit to the orphanage they will be in the SOK Foundation Kitchen preparing meals for Saturday’s Baseball Camp. On Saturday, the big day, they will host the orphans on the field at the American School of Warsaw.
During this event, the baseball ambassadors will play with and teach baseball to the children. The baseball uniforms they are bringing, he said, will have colors of the Ukrainian flag.
‘We partnered with Wilson Baseball and Pitch in for Baseball & Softball and we’ll be bringing and sending over $50,000 of new clothing for all of the children in the Orphanage thanks to their support,’ he said.
Hebble, one of the assistant coaches traveling to Poland, told DailyMail.com that he is ‘looking forward to sharing the elements of baseball with the kids.’
‘Baseball is a fantastic vehicle for creating great memories and, most of all, it’s just fun,’ Hebble said.
Hebble, who lives in Florida now, said he started playing for Empire Baseball New York when he was 11 years old, and now plays for Duke University while he works on his earning a masters in management.
‘I immediately jumped on board as I look at this trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to utilize the game of baseball to hopefully bring some light and fun into their lives,’ he said.
‘It’s a tragic situation and these kids are going through some incomprehensibly dark times so I hope we can put smiles on their faces and create some lasting memories that they can look back on and feel good about.’
Ten-year-old Max Miller, who has been playing baseball with Empire Baseball New York since he was five, is gearing up for the trip too. He is traveling with his mother, Marissa Miller from their home in Manhattan.
‘I’m excited!,’ Max told DailyMail.com
‘Baseball makes me so happy. If I can share a little of that happiness with the Ukrainian kids, who are going through such a hard time, I think that’s a good thing.’
Miller said one of his favorite things about the game is playing on a team and making lifelong friends.
The Chicago White Sox fan said he hopes to teach the kids he meets what he has learned from the sport.
‘I love that baseball pushes you to work hard because even the best players, the professional players, get out more than half of the time…but you just have to keep stepping up to the plate, forget about any past mistakes and swing as hard as you can,’ he said.
A photo of some of the younger orphans at SOK doing arts-n-crafts
Many of the orphan refugees are as young as 4 years old. They had been orphans in Ukraine but once the war broke out they were relocated to Warsaw, Poland
The Samodzielność od Kuchni (SOK) means Independence from the Kitchen, is an organization located in Warsaw that teaches basic cooking skills to children, and helps youth from foster care become independent. A young orphan (pictured here) is pending time with a visitor outside of Hotel Odess where the orphans are being cared for
The Samodzielność od Kuchni (SOK), is an organization that teaches basic cooking skills to children, and helps youth from foster care become independent.
Since April, the organization has been helping the Ukrainian orphans by providing them with meals and daily activities.
Some of the orphans know that Baltimore and his baseball ambassadors are coming, and for others, it will be a ‘surprise,’ while others may be too fearful to participate.
He added: ‘Sadly, it’s been explained to us that many are afraid of strangers and have experienced challenges that many of us can’t quite fathom or understand.’
As rewarding as the project has been for the entrepreneur it has been equally emotional.
‘I can’t get through any of our prep meetings without tears. It’s been uncontrollable. The more I learn, the more emotional it has become,’ he said.
A photo of Cole Hebble in action on the baseball field, who will be spending time with the orphans sharing his love of baseball and bringing a smile to these young orphans faces
Some of their other program including teaches foreign language and polish classes for the community, and mental health and psycho-social support for schools and organization.
Baltimore told DailyMail.com that he started volunteering and coaching youth baseball more than 15 years ago.
He had formed such a great bond with the kids he was coaching he was approached by the manager of the youth baseball team to mange their eight year old travel team.
His company, New York Empire Baseball he said ‘creates a culture that rewards process over outcome, and taught that hard work would lead to success.’
Children learn through the game how to do their best, be confident, not to be afraid of failure, and other invaluable life lessons that build a young persons character, as they develop.
‘I combined that with technology that was just beginning to arrive in the baseball industry, and one team turned into two, two turned into eight, and now we’re at 52 teams and we own our own indoor performance facility called The Arena.’
He added: ‘It’s a high tech home for baseball instruction in an environment that simulates being outdoors. We wanted to created a realistic training environment to prepare players to perform in the game.’
He hopes that his act of goodwill through his nonprofit will’ inspire others to do anything and everything they can for people who need help, wherever they may be.’