Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Earlier this month, when two players in the Yankees organization tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team recommended that players and staff working at the minor league complex self-isolate.
That left hitting instructor Rachel Balkovec with plenty of time to consider how she could help those in worse situations than hers. Motivated by her social conscience, she quickly hatched a plan.
Balkovec's initial idea was to donate $5 every day to a worthy cause, but she quickly thought that others might want to do the same. If she could pledge $35 per week, why not open it up to others who might do the same?
Balkovec taught herself how to set up a GoFundMe page and established Humans for Humans During COVID.
"I've always been fascinated by activism," says Balkovec, 32, who started with the Yankees this spring and happens to be the first known female hitting coach in professional baseball. "I try to keep an awareness of what's going on in the world. In sports we are so fortunate."
Recently, someone asked Balkovec if she felt cheated by the virus -- she had worked her entire life to earn this job, become a pioneer, and now can't start the season. Her answer: She was one of the lucky ones.
"This is a game," she says. "I'm feeling for the athletes who are possibly losing their careers and losing their seasons, but this is affecting places in the world that don't have hospitals. We have to keep a 10,000-foot view."
Balkovec has vetted the causes who receive her money by looking at their websites and speaking to the owners and operators. "I'm betting on people's sincerity," she says.
She first donated to a food bank in North Carolina. While getting to know the people who ran it, she heard a striking fact that reinforced her commitment to small-scale fundraising: Because of the way the food bank bought in bulk, every dollar she donated provided five meals.
This week's funds will go toward the purchase of medical supplies.
As of this writing, Balkovec has raised $2,205. She is hoping to maintain awareness of her project for the duration of the pandemic, which can prove more challenging as time passes.
"The first week goes by and people's minds can get away from it," she says.
Regardless of how many others donate, Balkovec will continue to do her part. She's just one person, but knows that success against the coronavirus will require millions of modest gestures from people all over the world.
"It's just my small way of trying to contribute," she said.