Red Sox Foundation Interview: How Scholars are Paying it Forward

This blog post is written by Letters Foundation intern and Red Sox Scholar alumna, Damaris Berrio, who supports the Foundation’s endeavors in External Relations. 

The mission of the Red Sox Foundation is to make a difference in the lives of children, veterans, families, and communities in need throughout New England by improving health, educational, and recreational opportunities. Red Sox Scholars, an award-winning program at the Foundation, selects students in 7th grade from Boston Public Schools and works closely with the students as they move through their middle school, high school, and post-secondary careers. The Scholars Program offers opportunities in professional development, academic, and social supports.

Since 2016, the Letters Foundation has partnered with the Red Sox Foundation by funding two students to join the newest class of Scholars each year, named “Sunshine Scholars” in honor of Doris’ nickname as the Sunshine Lady. Over the past three years, Letters Foundation had the privilege of supporting eight “Sunshine Scholars”, who continue to grow and thrive. 

I received my Red Sox Scholarship in 2011, and little did I know how much it would change my life.  The program’s events, workshops, mentorship, and volunteering really motivated me to be the best version of myself. Towards the end of my freshman year in college, I was introduced to an internship opportunity at Letters Foundation through my Red Sox Foundation mentor. It is now my second summer as an intern, and this experience has allowed me to nurture my budding interests in event planning, social media management, volunteer work, and the nonprofit world! 

I recently had the opportunity to interview my Red Sox Foundation mentor, Lidia, also a former Red Sox Scholar, who now works as a full-time Program Specialist at the Red Sox Foundation. For both Lidia and me, Fenway Park has become our second home, and the Red Sox Foundation our second family.  Below, I asked Lidia about her experiences as a former Scholar and how that experience has impacted Lidia today:

Q. How would you say the Red Sox Scholars Program helped you get to where you are today?

A. For me, it was a huge resource because I was the first in my family to go to college, so there were a lot of things I couldn’t really ask my parents. My parents always supported me and valued education, but knowing I had another team at the Foundation who believed in me made all the difference. 

Q. What brought you back around to be on the other side of the role in the Foundation?

A. From so early on, my family really benefited from nonprofits in the community, and I have always been involved, through volunteering or through the support that I received. I’m Dominican, so I grew up in a baseball household–I played it growing up and pretty much watched every Red Sox game. For me, it was an organic decision to work in sports, but I also wanted to help out the community. So, when the opportunity came up to use my passion for sports and also my passion for helping the community, I couldn’t pass it up. When I was in college I was able to intern for the Red Sox. I interned in the fan services department and helped with pre-game ceremonies and customer service here at Fenway. I then knew that yes, I did want to work in sports. The program did so much for me, so now I’m proud to pay it forward.

Q. How has your experience as a Red Sox Scholar helped you connect with the current scholars?

A. I think it is a huge leg up to have been a former scholar and now to be working with our current scholars. The scholars’ stories inspire me the most about the program, especially knowing that all of them have the potential to succeed in life. I was in their shoes, so for me, I love just being able to inspire them and to let them know that they can be anything they want to be. I can connect with almost every scholar on some level and really relate to their stories and their families. It matters just being able to say, “if I can do it, you can do it, too.”

Q. What is the #1 advice you would give a Red Sox Scholar?

A. I would say get involved with the Red Sox Foundation when you’re in school and make sure you’re showing up to all of the Foundation’s events.  Use all of the resources the Foundation offers!

The Red Sox Scholars Ceremony is an annual event that demonstrates the timeline of the Scholars’ Program, from newly inducted scholars to graduating seniors of high school and college. Each scholar’s class is lined up on the field, and as new scholars are welcomed and escorted by a Red Sox player, graduating scholars receive a cap and a jersey with their name. Watch this video of the 2017 ceremony to see the scholars in action! 

Red Sox Scholars are honored at Fenway Park in Boston, MA on Sunday, June 23, 2019. Photo by Reginald Thomas II/Boston Red Sox.