This just in: Sales of luxury items are booming again.
We in the 99.95 percent are so happy to hear that.
Hey, I’m not complaining. I indulge myself with everything from far too many magazine subscriptions to eating out to vacations. But I’m not quite in the same league with people who can blow 50 grand on a car or $300 on sunglasses, either (I usually budget those at $10, since their inevitable fate is either to be sat on or left somewhere).
But there do remain far too many people in our midst who would consider my lifestyle to be rather profligate, and with good reason. The prosperity train has neglected to schedule a stop at their station.
I am referring to the clientele of ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development), founded in 1962 and Boston’s official anti-poverty agency since 1964. That’s more than a half-century of serving the Boston community in an amazing number of capacities, from housing to education to job training to early childhood care and education (you may have heard of Head Start?) to youth programs to I think you get the idea. Oh, and by the way, ABCD clients are white, brown, black, yellow, and anything in between. Just so you know.
Funding all of this costs lots of money and the climate has changed drastically over the years with regard to government funding. Once upon a time, the late Senator Edward Kennedy could exert outsized influence to see that Washington would do right by this valuable agency. It’s a little bit tougher for ABCD to attract Washington’s attention these days.
This is where the Red Sox come in. The Red Sox-ABCD partnership was secured a number of years ago when John Harrington first gave his OK to have ABCD start a fund-raiser called “Field of Dreams,” in which local corporations formed softball teams to play at Fenway Park on a date when the Red Sox were out of town.
Field of Dreams became a huge success, with word-of-mouth testimony of what a great thrill it was to play in the shadow of the Green Monster spreading throughout the business community. Under the John Henry regime, Larry Lucchino has seen to it that the important Field of Dreams fund-raiser stays alive.
But local sports team involvement with ABCD doesn’t stop there. Not long after he became coach of the Celtics, Doc Rivers became aware of ABCD and all the good work it does. He made the acquaintance of Bob Elias, whose title at ABCD for more than 30 years has been Director of Government and Industrial Relations, and who, with all due respect to current CEO John Drew, became the public face of the organization once longtime CEO Robert Coard (45 years) died at age 82 in 2009.
Doc had an idea. If the Red Sox could give over the ballpark for softball, why couldn’t the Garden do the same for basketball? Same basic idea: have corporations field teams to play some half-court basketball on the fabled parquet with all those championship banners flying overhead? Thus was born “Hoop Dreams.”
The first Hoop Dreams was last fall and it was officially declared a success before the night was half over. How so? Because TD Garden president John Wentzell, whose largesse made the evening possible, announced over the microphone that this was going to be the first annual Hoop Dreams. It was an instant seal of approval from on high.
Doc has plans for his baby.
“Eventually,” he says, “I want to make this a really good competition. Keep guys on the court if they win. I watched a guy hit a game-winning shot last year and you would have thought they’d just won the world championship.”
That may have to wait a year. Right now the plans are to maintain last year’s format of strict rotation. But be assured that Doc is into this, and we know he’s going to be around here for a long time, with or without the Big Three, or portions thereof.
The question is, why ABCD? There are scores of other worthy agencies.
“It’s because of the scope of what they offer,” Doc explains. “I don’t think people realize how many different things they do.”
There’s a second reason.
“Bob Elias,” Doc says. “I think the work he does in Boston qualifies him as a saint; I really do. People like that deserve a helping hand.”
Now, there’s a twist this year. Demands on Fenway Park have increased to the point where the Sox weren’t able to offer ABCD its usual June date. So we have a fascinating doubleheader looming in September.
Hoop Dreams at TD Garden is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 13. The 15th annual Field of Dreams takes place the following day. No one planned it that way. It just kind of happened. It will make for a pretty interesting 48 hours for the ABCD staff.
But it will make for an even more interesting and rewarding experience for the companies and the participants.
Business folks: Call Alecia Carey at 617-348-6244 for sign-up info. Then have your people start working on their swing and/or shooting stroke. It’s not often you can have such a good time while performing such a good deed.