Twins, MLB team up to benefit homeless vets

Construction of Advantage Services Center to aid families dedicated in Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS -- When an All-Star Game comes to a new venue, it becomes an excellent vehicle to shine a light on the host city, as well as the work the host team tries to do in the community. Each year, there are countless community service events built around the All-Star Game, and the Minnesota Twins wanted to make sure their All-Star legacy was far-reaching.

As a result, more than $8 million has been given in the backdrop of this year's All-Star Game in and around the Twin Cities, the most in All-Star history. The final event of this historic effort took place at Fort Snelling on the VA Medical Center campus, where the Twins and Major League Baseball joined forces with CommonBond, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing and services, to dedicate the building of an Advantage Services Center as part of a new housing complex for homeless veterans.

"Major League Baseball and the Twins did share an interest in creating a legacy for the 2014 All-Star Game, which we are lucky and honored to be hosting here in the Twin Cities," said Jim Pohlad, owner and CEO of the Minnesota Twins. "The Twins making this unprecedented contribution couldn't be accomplished without the complete cooperation and shared vision with Major League Baseball.

"Our family and our businesses have had a long-standing relationship with CommonBond. We believe in its mission. Veterans can never be honored, and when needed, cared for enough. The Twins and Major League Baseball are totally committed to that. We, along with CommonBond, are thrilled to be a part of the veterans housing Advantage Center."

A total of 58 homeless veterans and their families will be given housing and access to on-site supportive services at no cost through the Advantage Services Center, the VA Medical Center and third-party providers. They are designed to teach homeless veterans and family members skills that can help them to become more self-sufficient. The Twins and Major League Baseball donated $700,000 to the effort to help make this project possible.

"All of us at CommonBond can't think of anything more important to be doing than housing people who have served us so courageously," said Paul Fate, CEO of CommonBond. "Your support provides critical funding for a brand new Advantage Center and life-changing supportive services. CommonBond's Advantage services will be a lifeline for residents. Veterans and their families will have access to a whole range of services to assist in the healing process and enable people to lift themselves up and reach their full potential.

"We're honored to be an extension of Major League Baseball's Welcome Back Veterans initiative through this historic project. Together, we're helping to end homelessness amongst veterans in the state of Minnesota."

This year, 321 homeless veterans in Minnesota were counted, according to Fate, who added that this project is "a big, big slice of the need that is out there."

"It's another proud chapter for Major League Baseball in supporting veterans," MLB vice president of community affairs Tom Brasuell said. "Major League Baseball, along with the McCormick Foundation, has donated more than $30 million to veterans initiatives through our Welcome Back Veterans programs. We want our veterans to know that we thank them, and we remain committed to them having the best lives they can possibly have."

"It's not a handout, it's a hand up," said Larry Shellito, the commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. "The strength of CommonBond is their ability to work with the veterans to give them the life skills that move them up and out so that more people can be taken care of. This is truly an outstanding program. I guarantee you that this is, and will remain, a national model."

Former Twins Greg Gagne and Frank Viola were on hand to lend their support, something they did countless times during their years playing in Minnesota. To them, this work in the community is nothing new, nor out of the ordinary just for the All-Star Game. They've seen the Twins and the Pohlad family provide this kind of support time and time again.

"This is the reason why we're so proud to be Minnesota Twins, to see what they've done, how they accomplish things, with CommonBond, with Major League Baseball," Viola said. "It's been wonderful. I'll always be a Minnesota Twin at heart. I can't be more proud to say I was a Minnesota Twin after seeing everything they've done."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.