You would think when you are an owner of the legendary New York Yankees, interacting with the players and watching games would be the best part of the job. Not true for Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal. She looks forward to the one week off the field called HOPE Week, organized by the Yankees. Hope is an acronym for Helping Others Persevere and Excel. Recently, at the kickoff event at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, I spoke to the general partner-vice chairperson of the Yankees about why HOPE week is her favorite.
“It’s my favorite week. It’s not as much about being at the Yankee game. I’m blessed that I get to do that. It’s about going to the homes and going and serving the food. That’s where my heart is and that’s what I love to do. That’s why its made it so special to me to be able to do the behind-the-scenes and to do the actual hands on with people.”
Jennifer’s father, George Steinbrenner, was well known for philanthropy, something that he passed down to his children. “We were very close as a family and my father always believed that ‘you make the world a better place, but you don’t tell anybody about it. You do it quietly and behind-the-scenes.’ I’d like to think that our foundation does that within the Yankees. We try to do as much as we can to make it great, and it really is all about the people here, not about us.”
So for Steinbrenner-Swindal, being able to give back through the HOPE Week initiatives makes every day a holiday. “Every year for the last five years we’ve had such amazing stories of people helping other people. We’re so blessed within the Yankees to have the ability to bring light to people who are making a difference in this world …for me to be here its just every day, it’s like Christmas, to be able to give a surprise to somebody and make their world better.”
Unlike many organizations who plan community service events for one day of the year, the Yankees do this for an entire week. But outside of the week, the New York Yankees are doing their part in giving back to the community the other 51 weeks of the year, but they are doing so in the vision of George Steinbrenner, without the cameras and without telling anyone about it.