Berry and Kelly Winston
Berry Winston has spent his entire life in northeast Indianapolis’ Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood – a life that has come full circle as he and his wife Kelly follow his father’s example of service, beginning with the pitch of a baseball.
“[My dad] would take us to the park to play softball or baseball,” Berry Winston said. “He’d try to talk sense into my friends and stuff like that. He was a mentor and role model to me.”
It’s those experiences that led Berry and Kelly Winston to serve as treasurer and president of Douglas Little League, a local baseball league where cultural experiences and community building are of equal importance to what happens on the diamond for the at-risk youth it serves. “Sure, they coach them on the diamond, but it’s the coaching they do off the field on grades, self-esteem and character building that are just as important,” said their 100 Heroes nominator, Bernice Anthony.
In one instance, a trip to Memphis for baseball afforded players the opportunity to visit the National Civil Rights Museum. More critical is the budding buy-in at home from the young athletes’ families and neighbors. “I can see it through the league as far as parents becoming more involved with their kids, and even other kids,” Berry Winston said.
“We’ve had people who aren’t parents want to come help pick up trash in the park to make it nicer for the kids,” added Kelly Winston. This all plays right into Kelly Winston’s chief desire for the future of Indianapolis – that everyone take more pride in, and better care of, their communities and fellow citizens.
In the face of exhaustive coverage of the city’s struggles with crime and public debate about how to address it, Berry Winston views the league and its work to get as many kids as possible off the streets and onto the baseball field as a valuable piece of the puzzle.
“Once a kid joins, we try not to lose that kid. When you show these kids love, they don’t want to leave you,” said Berry Winston. “When I wake up in the morning and read the news and I don’t see a kid or parent from Douglass Little League has gotten into any trouble or lost their life that night – that makes us want to keep going.”