Baseball is alive all year-round at All Star Indoor Batting Range Baseball & Softball Academy. Started in 1991 by three baseball fans—Kevin and Brian Gilroy and Frank Rizzo—the facility gives players the chance to practice no matter how many inches of snow or packs of rabid umpires are flurrying outside. The 15,000-square-foot sports haven boasts seven tunnel cages for practicing all aspects of the game. Other elements, such as stadium benches and 7,000 square feet of artificial turf, give the academy the feel of an indoor diamond. To help players take their skills to the next level, the academy also offers private and semiprivate lessons, and maintains a pro shop stocked with essential gear.
Part of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Save the Sound works to restore and protect the tidal wetlands, coastal grasslands, and island forests of the Long Island Sound. Environmental engineer Gwen MacDonald works with construction crews and project managers to implement her design plans at habitat-restoration sites, and volunteer coordinator Kierran Broatch organizes locals to fill these areas with native plant species. As part of their efforts to restore degraded coastal marsh and river habitats, Save the Sound has opened fish breeding habitats that were blocked for more than a century. It achieved increased public awareness through outreach and education, and now volunteers monitor these areas regularly.
All Star Club members can boost both their athletic abilities and cash flow by brandishing Baseball City's modern equipment and by enrolling in classes at discounted rates. Budding MVPs bloom under the warming glow of several clinics, which impart lessons in hitting, fielding, pitching, and flagging down wandering peanut vendors. Resident trainers also host private sessions to give players the extra attention they need to excel at duet singing. Even without enrollment in lessons, members and their families benefit from unlimited use of the training area, a 10% discount in the pro shop, and the right to reserve batting cages in advance to prevent paraphrased renditions of "Who's On First."
As part of its Youth Engagement Zone (YEZ) program, buildOn will host three school-wide service days at Mott Hall High School in The Bronx, New York. The program will integrate service learning into the classroom and coordinate afterschool programming for at least 150 young people who will perform community service in their neighborhoods, with ongoing weekend and weekday opportunities throughout the year. The service-learning activities build relationships between students and adults and foster a connection to the broader community. Through the YEZ program, students will perform more than 10,000 hours of community service. With funding aid, buildOn can support student-led projects with transportation and supplies such as paintbrushes and tools.
Working to empower individuals with disabilities to live life to the fullest, Futures, Inc. provides social-skills training, tutoring, independent-living training, and other support services to students and adults with disabilities. At the Futures School—Connecticut’s first community-based special-education school to be approved by the Department of Education—students aged 14–21 receive customized, one-on-one special education in their home communities. These education services include real-world work experience, transportation services, sessions with a full-time counselor, and typically lead to a high-school diploma from Futures School.
At Art & Soul Gallery Studio, Lis-el and Alexis Crowley lead casual art classes in a space brimming with creations by local artists. In the studio, the artists demonstrate steps in crafting items such as fused-glass pieces and painted scarves. Students follow along during class sessions, eventually bringing pieces into existence with their own individual flair and burgeoning telekinetic powers. After class, students can decamp to the gallery for a glimpse of other’s work or pop into a comfortable lounge for sips of coffee or tea.