TAMPA — Joe and Jaye Maddon were back in their old neighborhood for the past week, getting reacquainted with the southern California scene they will again call home as he returns to his baseball roots in taking over as manager of the Angels.
They went over to the house they still own, and will again live in, in Long Beach. Stopped by his new place of employment in Anaheim. Checked out a few of their other favorite places.
But a drive through Huntington Beach, and specifically the Sunset Beach area, also stood out.
That was where Maddon, many years ago before he got his first manager’s job with the Rays in 2006, and before he went on to even greater success with the Cubs including the 2016 World Series championship, got a first-hand sense of the homeless problem in the country, and the desire to help, which he now does regularly, including Wednesday’s kickoff at Metropolitan Ministries to his annual Thanksmas campaign.
“Watching homeless people running their shopping cart worth of life up and down the beach ... I was always negatively impressed, if that makes any sense, to watch all this occur, and how do you do something to help,” Maddon said. "So when we got here with the Rays (in his first manager’s job), I thought the soapbox got larger, and get on it.
"Jaye was a big mover and shaker with this because she insisted and brought it to my attention to become more adept within the charitable community, and so we did. And we’re at the point right now we’re here for Metropolitan Ministries and more.
"Listen, go check these (homeless) folks walking around at night, and sometimes stop and talk with them. Also, come into a building like this and watch the volunteers, what they do on a daily basis, it’s incredibly astronomical what they do daily. These are those kind of issues that are pushed to the side, that you don’t really want to get involved in.
“I’ve always said, every family, seriously, should at least volunteer one day a year. If everybody decided to do something like that, the impact would be so great. Just one day. I say that because I don’t get an involved as I’d like to, so my days are limited regarding this, but at least it’s talking about it and not doing anything. So that would be the challenge.”
Wednesday’s event, in which Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation served meals (from PDQ and Glory Days Grill) and provided backpacks (CITYPAK) and socks (DivvyUp) to about 200 adults and kids, was the first of seven in the Tampa Bay area. They have done events to help the homeless and other causes in Chicago; Mesa, Ariz.; his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.; and will do so now in southern California.
Though Maddon left the Rays after the 2014 season, he and Jaye still have a home and businesses in Tampa, and he said it still is important to him to help here, and credited “deft” foundation director Rick Vaughn for coordinating the campaign.
“We wanted to continue the Thanksmas tradition,” Maddon said. “It’s something when we had left several years ago talked about making sure to continue, and we are. And we’re back at the Metropolitan Ministries; we had been years ago and were really impressed with the facility and how it was run.”
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Metropolitan Ministries president and CEO Tim Marks said they appreciated Maddon coming out, and also speaking out.
On a normal day, Metropolitan Ministries serves 100 families living on the Tampa campus plus 40 at other sites while producing 3,000 hot meals a day that are served elsewhere, Marks said, and the need increases in the holiday season.
“Joe coming and sharing of himself and getting to meet our families (helps), but it also creates a platform,” Marks said. "As we get into the holiday season, we’re getting ready to help 30,000 families that are at risk throughout Tampa Bay. It’s great that the Thanksmas initiative is starting here at Metro, but not stopping here. It’s going to many other non-profits throughout Tampa Bay and everywhere he goes he’s going to raise awareness for the important work that it is to help people that are hurting in our community.
“And that’s what I love about Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay gets it. I think Metropolitan Ministries is a testament to nothing good happens here without the community, and Joe is helping to raise awareness throughout the community.”
For information on the Respect 90 Foundation, click here.
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays