By Mike Kinney
Whenever Nicholl Park in Richmond gets some tender loving care, there’s a good chance Soulful Softball Sunday is coming soon.
Soulful Softball Sunday is the award-winning, grassroots community gathering launched by community advocates Rodney Alamo Brown and Antwon Cloird five years. It brings the community together for fun, food, entertainment and, most importantly, a wide variety of resources promoting health, education, employment, re-entry services and more.
While the free annual event is not until Sunday, Aug. 25, every year the crew at Soulful Softball Sunday organizes significant improvement projects at Nicholl Park.
This year, they’re really going all out. Volunteers this week were busy painting practically the whole park. The crew of volunteers included apprentices from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 (Local 741 and 376).
Sabrina Pacheco of Gold Metropolitan Media helped connect Cloird and the painters unions.
“We are partnering with our local unions; the apprentices are all doing this great work here,” Cloird said. “It’s a collaborative effort. We always say the teamwork make a dream work. This is not competition, but a coalition here in Richmond to make things work and be motivated for our community.”
Volunteers will clear weeds and clean up the park ahead of Aug. 25, when hundreds of community members will come for a daylong tradition of softball, BBQ, and opportunities.
“So our role is to bring the resources to the community,” Cloird said. “This year, we have the opportunity to have the building trades come out and offer real careers for our residents of Richmond and Contra Costa County. We will be doing [criminal record] expungements with the District Attorney and Public Defender.”
According to the Soulful Softball Sunday Facebook page, the event will feature giveaways of hundreds of backpack that were sponsored by community donors, free catered soul, free Soulful Softball T-shirts, a ceremony honoring past and present community members for achievements, including scholarship winners, and more.
Church will take place in the park that day at 9 am. Community softball games start at 11 am. Later in the day, the Soulful Softball team and a Los Angeles team are going to pay, “and we plan to win to get our trophy back, that they won last year,” Cloird said.
Of course, winning isn’t everything.
“Our goal is to bring resources into the community, because sometimes people don’t like or don’t know how to go to the resources,” Cloird said.