This week’s Bravo* goes to Shane Victorino for completely overhauling the Nicetown Boys & Girls Club at North 18th Street and Hunting Park Avenue. The 106 year-old building was built as a Boys & Girls Club and was one of the first in the nation to work with both boys and girls from the start. But after 106 years of young people coming and going, the building was in rough shape.
For the last year and a half, the Nicetown Boys & Girls Club underwent a complete rehab, thanks to a $1 million commitment from the Shane Victorino Foundation. Last week the building was rededicated in Victorino's name. His foundation gift covered a complete overhaul of the club, making it an inviting and safe place for neighborhood kids to play sports, do homework, use the computer lab, or just hang out. The new facility will provide programs and services to an estimated 300 kids daily.
Normally I don't fawn over professional athletes and their charitable deeds. Rather, I believe that as public figures in their city, top-tier athletes have a duty to do good work and be good citizens. Yes, the gesture made by Victorino through his foundation was very generous. But this one felt different.
At the opening ceremonies last week, Victorino was moved to tears. (See video below.) He spoke from the heart about Philadelphia, a city he said he hopes to play his entire career in, and about providing something meaningful for children in underserved neighborhoods in the city. He is proud to have his name on top of this humble building.
So, as you root for the Fightin’s in their playoff run starting Saturday, give Shane an extra cheer. Bravo, Shane, for breathing new life into this old building, for your foundation's commitment to helping children in need, for leading with your heart, and for giving back to Philadelphia. Well played.
Full disclosure: I am the proud owner of a Victorino t-shirt.
*Bravo is an Eyes on the Street feature that takes a moment to applaud the people and places making Philadelphia great.