HOUSTON -- A pair of kids who benefited from the presence of the Bo Porter S.E.L.F. Foundation at their school took the podium early Monday morning in downtown Houston and told a sold-out crowd of about 200 people how much the foundation's after-school program has meant to them.
That brought a smile to the face of the Astros' manager, who started his foundation with his wife Stacey. The foundation has been touching young lives in Houston for nearly two years. The Porters have been involved in mentoring and coaching young student-athletes since their days at the University of Iowa, where they met.
Monday's Opening Day Breakfast at Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse, half a block from Minute Maid Park -- where the Astros and Yankees will begin their season Tuesday night -- featured Astros bench coach Dave Trembley and former Astros and Yankees general manager Bob Watson as keynote speakers, and it served as a reminder of how important it is to give back.
Jeannine Porter, principal of Key Middle School in Houston, said the Porters have made a big impact at her school with the after-school program, which promotes sports, education, life skills and faith (S.E.L.F.).
"I can't say enough about Stacey and Bo Porter and the work they've done to come into Key Middle School and influence our kids in a positive manner," she said. "From the first time I met both of them, I knew that it was worthy of a great working relationship.
"One of the things that we really spoke about was exposing our kids to other factors. A lot of them aren't able to get outside of the neighborhood they live in, so what Stacey and Bo have been able to do by coming in and bringing in others to speak to the kids and share their stories has been phenomenal this year."
Two students from Key talked about the impact of the program, which runs daily from 4-6 p.m. after school. The first hour is focused on academics, and the second hour promotes life skills -- as well as athletics -- and gives students a safe haven. Key is one of three middle schools at which the Porters began an after-school program this year.
"Now that we're in school and they're starting to get the information fed to them day in and day out, the impact in which it's having [is big]," Bo Porter said. "There were probably 50 or so kids the first week, and as time started to go more and more, you're up to like 150, because more kids are starting to talk about it."
Trembley, a former high school teacher in inner-city Los Angeles, said the chance to impact young lives is something those in high positions should take advantage of.
"You make a difference in one person and now you're going to make a difference in another person, and I think what you have to do is let people know, especially young people, that you care about them," he said. "That's why we're here. That's what Bo Porter and Stacey are all about. Not only in this community, but people that live here and people that are going to come here long after us."
Watson played 19 years in the Major Leagues, including 14 with the Astros, and he was twice named to the National League All-Star team. He became the first African-American GM in baseball history when the Astros named him to the post in 1993, and three years later, he became the first black GM to win the World Series when the Yankees captured the Fall Classic.
Watson grew up in Los Angeles idolizing Dodgers players John Roseboro, a catcher, and Tommy Davis, a left fielder, and he was impacted by them as a teenager when they came to speak to him and his classmates at Fremont High School -- which produced baseball stars Eric Davis, George Hendrick, Chet Lemon, Gene Mauch, Bobby Doerr and Bobby Tolan, among others.
"You never know who you're talking to, you never know how you're going to impact them," Watson said. "I want to be a positive influence on everybody I met, especially young people. I know what John Roseboro and Tommy Davis meant to me; and personally, talking to me, what it's meant to me in life. When [Bo Porter] asked me to do this, I said, 'It's a little early for me nowadays -- I'm getting up there in age -- but for you, I'll come do this.'"
On Tuesday, the Porters will play host another Opening Day Breakfast event at Vic and Anthony's, with S.E.L.F.'s major donors and corporate sponsors. The keynote speaker will be 1993 Heisman Trophy winner and former NBA player Charlie Ward.
Porter announced Monday that Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson will be honored by the foundation at the second annual "A Legacy Lasts Forever" gala dinner on Nov. 13. The inaugural dinner last fall honored longtime Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, who coached Porter.