Tammi Larocque shows off some of the sports equipment she’s collected

Field of hope

South Surrey's Tammi Larocque fundraising to help Nicaraguan village

An Ocean Park woman whose three sons grew up on local baseball fields is hoping an upcoming project she’s spearheading in Nicaragua will give youth there the same opportunity.

Tammi Larocque, along with a handful of friends and family members, is currently fundraising and collecting gently used baseball equipment – uniforms, bases, cleats, catcher’s gear and more – which she’s planning to send, via container, to the fishing village of Jiquilillo, Nicaragua in mid-September.

And following the shipping of the container, Larocque and her team of volunteers will head to the small beachside village – on the country’s west coast, about 180 km from the country’s capital city of Managua – to not only distribute the gear, but to also build a baseball field for the area’s youngsters. The shipping container will arrive a few months after it leaves the B.C., and Larocque’s group will fly to Nicaragua in mid-December, and stay for three weeks. She figures it will take about 10 days to build the field.

She’ll make the trip with her three grown sons and two of their girlfriends, and said they’ll recruit more volunteer help when they get there.

“They’ve never played on anything other than beaches before,” Larocque explained.

“It’s a town of about 1,800 people, so they don’t get these types of projects too often. I think there will be a lot of young boys eager to help out to build this field.”

Larocque is aiming to raise $7,000 for the project, and has collected about $4,000 thus far, through donations from people in the community.

In addition to Larocque, the effort is being spearheaded by Don Montgomery, a Port Alberni teacher who lives part-time in Jiquilillo, where he runs a surf shop/beach lodge.

In the past, Montgomery has given back to his adopted community by promoting “social tourism”, building schools, sponsoring youth baseball teams and more.

Larocque, who met Montgomery through a mutual friend, wanted to help, too, and suggested building a baseball field – with goalposts on either side, so it can double as a soccer pitch – on a property Montgomery owned and upon which is planning to build a high-school trade school.

“(Montgomery) told me he he’d wanted to build a field for about five years but it was just never in the budget, so I just decided to take it on myself,” Larocque said.

“My boys grew up playing baseball so it’s something I wanted to do.”

So far, fundraising and equipment collection – which also includes gardening tools and lawnmowers for the field – has gone well, Larocque said.

“The support from people here has just been amazing. Everyone’s been so supportive.”

Once the field is built, Larocque said its the Montgomery’s goal to host youth baseball teams from around the world, who will come and take on the local squads.

“The players down there, they’re phenomenal. They just don’t have (the resources) we have,” she said. “I think the village is going to go nuts.”

Larocque has set up a blog to document the project – www.fieldofhope.wordpress.com – and is also still collecting donations of both money and equipment. For more information, or to donate, email Lacrocque at ugottammi@gmail.com

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