Kevin Cooney is in his 18th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic
University of the Atlantic Sun Conference and 22nd overall. A former pitching
star at Montclair State, Cooney has led FAU to an average of 46 wins per season
the past six years. He as guided the Blue Wave to a 273-106 record and five NCAA
Regionals in the past six years. This is the second year he has offered his thoughts on
baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Nov. 25, 2004
Thanksgiving in Palm Beach
There are not many areas in the country wealthier than Palm Beach County,
Florida. From Jupiter Island, to the island of Palm Beach and south to the
beaches of Boca Raton, the ocean rushes to the luxury of beaches lined with
multimillion dollar homes and condominiums by the score. As you travel west, and
then north, you pass by lavish gated communities and polo fields. The remaining
farms you encounter provide fruits, vegetables and plants of all types to fill
the needs of those here and around the country.
St. Jude Catholic Church is one of the many places of worship and civic
foundations that make an effort at holidays to provide for those in need.
Today five Florida Atlantic baseball players and my two little kids joined me
in helping the St. Jude Thanksgiving food delivery. We were informed that most
of the meals would be delivered to those who were homebound and normally
serviced by Meals On Wheels.
My late mother was a recipient for years of that fine social service and took
great delight whenever the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Red Barons baseball players
helped in making deliveries. The program doesn't run on holidays, however, so
organizations like St. Jude's try to fill the void.
When the organizers heard there would be five college baseball players
volunteering, they had a special delivery in mind.
I was told we would be going to “In The Pines” in Delray Beach. The woman in
charge was happy to have us because this location was “a little rough, and some
families with small children helping, might not want to go there.”
I'm thankful that my young children and players were chosen to go there.
The directions took us northwest of the glitter of Boca and downtown Delray.
The Polo Club and other similar enclaves of the rich and fortunate surrounded
us. We had dinners for 13 people in our hands, and I was proud of Jordan Hafer
for not eating any on the way.
Suddenly on my left was a small wooden sign: “In The Pines.” I missed the
turn. It was nothing but an old dirt road with an empty dilapidated barn. We
hung a U-turn and entered another world.
The dirt road led us to what looked like an old rundown motel, like you see
on highways abandoned years after an interstate came through. In front of each
door, people were living their lives. Men were working on cars, the women were
holding young ones, little kids were playing in a grass lot with a rusted swing
set and jungle gym.
It was Thanksgiving in a part of Palm Beach county rarely seen by our
Apartments 7, 8 and 9 were our responsibility.
The front doors were open, but long curtains hung down to help keep out the
dirt and insects. There didn't seem to be air conditioning. Maggie and Luke
smiled at the little ones happy to be receiving a good meal. Everyone smiled and
was very appreciative. I know I was startled to see such conditions. I guess I
am naive. It was a feeling that I could sense from our guys and my children.
These are the people who put food on our tables, cut our lawns, clean our
homes and offices and are at the mercy of the kindness of strangers for a decent
meal on a day where we commemorate the New World of plenty that our forefathers
How many industrial farms, nurseries and landscapers live in the luxury of
Palm Beach County on the backs of these people we met today?
Where does Mr. Calderon take his youngest child when she's sick? Who pays for
Mr. Lopez's daughter's school clothes? Do any of these people have IRA's or
That is the big lie of the United States. Sure, we are the biggest,
strongest, wealthiest nation on earth; but can't we do more? These are
hard-working people who are doing the jobs that American citizens snub. The pay
is lousy, there are no benefits or retirement, and who cares how the worker has
to live? Why can't we do better?
So, on a day where all families are reminded of the good and bad in their
lives, and we all give thanks for what we have, let's not forget the people in
that shadow world that help make our lives what they are.
My thanks to Jordan Hafer, Alex Silversmith, Mickey Storey, Danny Terpak and
Jason Doherty, who gave up part of their Thanksgiving to help some strangers.
bet they got as much as they gave.
An Empty Seat (11/10/04)
Fall is in the Air (10/21/04)
Hurricane Carmen (9/24/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)