Monday roundup: TV schedules, Astroline and an Astro making a difference in far away places.
With 60-some players and a couple of dozen coaches wearing Astros uniforms at this stage of Spring Training, it would be easy to lump everyone together and categorize them as a somewhat nondescript group of baseball people.
But everyone has a story, and you’d be surprised at what you can find out by striking up a conversation with someone over an early-morning cup of coffee and a bowl of Cheerios.
For several years, catching coordinator Danny Sheaffer (pictured above) has been in uniform in Kissimmee as part of the Spring Training coaching staff, and during the regular season, he can be found following the Minor League teams, working with the catchers in the organization.
But it’s what Sheaffer, who played professionally for 18 years, including eight in the big leagues, does in his spare time that is unique. He focuses his attention on an organization he formed several years ago with two businessmen called Blits Worldwide, a non-profit entity that builds and manufactures water purification units. These units go to third-world countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
Additionally, Blits (Business Leaders Inspired To Serve) Worldwide has partnered with Orbies for Orphans, which aims to meet the needs of the 99 percent of the children around the world that will not be adopted. Orbies focuses on preparing these children for life after they age out of the system through a needs-based biblical curriculum. Blits Worldwide steps in by providing clean water for them.
Approximately 38,000 kids age out of the orphanage system every day, and many — mostly girls — go directly into sex trafficking and other dangerous lifestyles. They’re 14 or 15 years old and merely trying to survive. What they really need is an education and life skills, which Orbies works to provide, with assistance from Blits.
It would be impossible to find a better life for every single orphan. Of the 153 million worldwide, only 250,000 are adopted every year — that’s one percent. Blits and Orbies concentrate on the other 99 percent, even if they have to work on it one orphan at a time.
The water cycle is unending, unhealthy and dangerous. Kids drink impure water, go to missionaries of local tribes for pills to kill the parasites, go back home and drink dirty water again and come back for more pills.
Blits Worldwide’s purification units are self-sustaining and solar-powered and have provided clean water for thousands of orphans. But that’s not the only mission. Blits also sponsors a children’s feeding program in Nicaragua, which has about 30 stations with approximately 100 kids at each station who live in a dump in Managua. Blits provides pure water for them, and with available funding, it also helps with food.
Blits is mainly a three-man operation: Sheaffer, and two North Carolina business men, Steve Gaines and Steve Scully. It has been a huge undertaking, but over time, once word got out about their mission, they received support from many like-minded businessmen in several cities.
“What I’ve found is most men between the ages of 40 and 60 feel like they don’t do enough,” Sheaffer said. “They want to do more. I just don’t think there’s a more meaningful purpose than to meet the needs of those who cannot help themselves.”
In addition to Orbies for Orphans, Blits has teamed with Samaritan’s Purse, whose emergency relief programs provide assistance to victims of natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. It offers food, water, and temporary shelter and help people rebuild their lives.
Blits Worldwide and Samaritan’s Purse are, together, planning a project that will provide water bottles that will be filled with hygiene kits — toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. — that Orbies for Orphans will then provide to kids. The bottles serve two purposes: one batch goes directly to orphans with the intent to teach good health habits, and another batch goes to families in the states who are helping the kids, or better yet, looking to adopt. Photos of the kids directly benefiting from the project appear on the bottles.
Other sites to peruse, if you’d like to learn more:
Thanks to local and national programming, your Astros will be on television quite a few times this month. FS Houston will air two games, and MLB Network will show seven more, most of which will be on tape delay.
FS Houston will air the March 20 game with the Cardinals at Osceola County Stadium and the April 3 game with the White Sox at Minute Maid Park.
Wednesday, March 7 at Phillies, 1 a.m. CT (tape delayed, for you night owls);
Friday, March 16 at Braves, 9 CT (tape delayed)
Saturday, March 17 at Yankees, noon CT (live)
Wednesday, March 21 vs. Cardinals, 8 a.m. CT (tape delayed)
Thursday, March 22 at Mets, Noon CT (Live)
Saturday, March 24 at Pirates, 7 p.m. CT (tape delayed)
Tuesday, April 3 vs. White Sox, 3 a.m. CT (tape delayed)
In other programming news, catcher Chris Snyder will be Milo Hamilton’s guest on Astroline Wednesday at 8 ET/7 CT. The show will air live at the ESPN Club at the Disney Boardwalk and can be heard on 740 KTRH and Astros.com.
We will hold four Social Media Nights this season: April 21, June 2, July 28 and Sept. 15. Details about the events and a schedule of player appearances will be released at a later time.