Lima woman makes All-Star charitable effort - Catholic Courier

Lima woman makes All-Star charitable effort

It seems that whenever Marylou Krest gets a chance to live the high life, her heart turns toward the less fortunate.


A case in point occurred on July 14, when Krest took the field at Busch Stadium in St. Louis prior to the Baseball All-Star Game. There, as part of the star treatment she received throughout her trip, Krest met personal favorites Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins.

"It was nice to shake their hand and get a hug from them," said Krest, a parishioner of St. Rose in Lima.

But even better, she said, was mingling with the kindred spirits of charitable works who stood alongside her.

Krest and 29 other people, all from different major-league organizations, were honored as "All-Stars Among Us" by Major League Baseball and People magazine. Krest represented the Twins by virtue of the fact that the Rochester Red Wings — for which she and her husband, Arch, have season tickets — are the Twins’ Class AAA affiliate. Recipients were introduced just prior to President Barack Obama’s throwing of the All-Star Game’s first pitch.

"Everybody said the most wonderful part was meeting each other. Everyone has exchanged e-mails," said Krest, 60.

Krest said that rather than gain personal glory out of their All-Star Game experiences, the honorees were more intent on promoting their causes. They hope to eventually meet with Obama at the White House and also persuade major-leaguers to increase charitable giving out of their multimillion-dollar salaries.

"A thousand dollars to them is like five dollars to us. Think of all the good it could do anyplace — Rochester, Lima, the Dominican Republic," she said.

It was a 1997 trip to the Dominican Republic that served as the starting point for Krest’s All-Star Game recognition. She and her husband were first-time guests at a resort in the Puerto Plata region, yet amid the luxurious surroundings she was struck by the intense poverty.

"The people at the resort made $3 a day — a day," she remarked.

When the Krests ventured off the resort into the mountain region, children clamored for her husband’s baseball hats, signifying the country’s passion for the sport.

"Kids would chase after vehicles and people would throw candy, money. Kids would just have underwear on, be barefoot. It was very sad," Krest recalled, adding that as a resident of a small middle-class town, she had been aware of poverty but never previously met it head-on: "You see these people and the houses they live in, and you actually feel guilty. Even the dogs and cats, you can see their ribs."

But rather than just cluck her tongue and return to life as usual back in Lima, Krest got to work by collecting school supplies, candy and used Little League uniforms that would otherwise have been discarded. When the Krests returned to the Dominican Republic the next year, she had plenty of items to dole out. They have since made one or two trips annually to the Caribbean country — the most recent was in 2008 — to deliver more goods.

Presenting gifts is a bittersweet experience. She said that "the kids were just thrilled," but she was again moved by their tremendous need, such as the boy to whom she offered lollipops yet insisted on being given a pencil because he needed one to attend school.

"You feel like you want to do more, but there’s only so much you can do," she said.

Krest was nominated for All-Stars Among Us by her children — son Shawn, 37, and daughters Wendy, 32, and Courtney, 25. By being selected, she joined folks across the United States who have done such noble works as teaching sailing to individuals with disabilities; founding a program that provides knitted and crocheted caps for cancer patients; starting an effort to bring sick children to appointments when their families lack transportation; forming a nonprofit group that promotes education for at-risk youths; providing care packages to soldiers; distributing unused baseball tickets to underprivileged children; and launching a cerebral-palsy research foundation. Krest said she was especially impressed by a man who lectures on the dangers of driving while intoxicated, just two years after his own daughter was killed by a drunken driver.

"It’s just amazing what one person’s idea can do," Krest said, emphasizing that the basic concept of All-Stars Among Us is a reminder that anyone can effect good either locally or abroad. For those wishing to follow her own model, she suggested that folks keep an eye out for deep-discount and clearance items at local stores that can be purchased and turned over to charity. In fact, she once used her $150 in winnings from a lottery scratch-off game to buy 150 pieces of clothing at a dollar store.

"People who live in the U.S. don’t realize how easy it is," she said.

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