Heather McKeating is rarely found in her office. McKeating is the Community Relations Director for the Norfolk Tides and has been working there for 24 years. Community service is the best part of her job, she said she, “fell in love with the Tides.”
McKeating is a major player at the community-service oriented team, including their parent team the Baltimore Orioles, where 18 staff members work together to give back to those around them. McKeating and her staff work to “provide a good and clean atmosphere” as well as encourage community togetherness. For example, the Tides staff and volunteer team members renovate one to two local community baseball fields a year. The project has even attracted sponsors such as Goodwill, Safelight, and Orkin.
The Tides involve not only staff members, but players in their community service. One example is pitcher Tyler Wilson, who has played for the Tides and the Orioles. Wilson has volunteered to visit sick children at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughter and been involved with Field of Dreams which allows children to go on the field before the games with the players, and stand with them during the national anthem. Tides players are not required to volunteer, and to Wilson, this is essential because, “Having players take initiative comes from genuine heart.”
Another program that the Tides created is called CommUNITY. Spectators are encouraged to photograph themselves with frames that promote the event and push positive values and “caring about the community,” McKeating said. McKeating and her staff also want to make sure Tides’ Games remain affordable family entertainment. The Tides and Orioles donate $60,000 worth of tickets annually so that low-income families can attend games.
Certain games are also tailored toward fundraising with some being part charity and part awareness McKeating said.
It is “very important to give back,” McKeating said. “I love that we can give back.”