Big Donation Brings $400,000 Fundraising Campaign Across Home Plate

An Oregon charitable foundation with ties to a former Youngstown resident has granted $175,000 to the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue project, bringing a successful conclusion to the statue fundraising campaign.

The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, based in Wilsonville, Ore., near Portland, approved the grant after its co-founder, Sally Bany, watched a CBS Sunday Morning feature story on the statue in September. 

“It is so important to build memorials to people and events that bring Americans together,” Bany said. “The 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson and George Shuba was such an important moment in our nation’s history and truly reflects the best of us. We were so excited to learn about the handshake and even more pleased to learn we could play a role in making sure the memorial statue will become a reality. Our hope is that this statue reminds generations of Americans about the importance of reaching across our racial differences to advance equality, fairness and unity.”

Ernie Brown, co-chair of the statue project committee, said that the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation’s executive director, Rachael Sneddon, contacted the committee through its website after watching the September 27 CBS broadcast and asked about providing whatever funding was needed to complete the statue campaign. The grant brings total donations beyond the committee’s $400,000 goal. Requests to other sources for statue funding have been withdrawn.  

“We are thrilled that a group we never even heard of shares our mindset about this statue and the values it reflects and has stepped up with such a tremendous gift – and has a Youngstown connection,” Brown said. “We appreciate the generosity of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation and look forward to recognizing its support with a permanent designation at the statue site.

“We’re grateful for all of the support this statue has received – from the initial $10 online donation from Hubbard to this $175,000 grant from Oregon and everything in between.”

The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue will celebrate the handshake on April 18, 1946 of Robinson, the first African American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown. The handshake followed a three-run homer by Robinson in his debut game with the Montreal Royals, a minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. When neither of the teammates who scored on Robinson’s homer waited at home plate to congratulate him, Shuba, the on-deck batter, stepped up to shake his hand. That handshake, captured in photographs, became known as “a handshake for the century,” as it marked the start of racial integration of professional baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

“George Shuba’s simple but profound gesture of acceptance reflected his Youngstown upbringing and Youngstown values,” said Greg Gulas, another co-chair of the project committee. “As a result, Youngstowners have shared the story of that handshake with pride for decades. Now we’re so excited about this moment being memorialized with a huge, beautiful bronze statue in downtown Youngstown. We have been blown away by the generosity of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation and the many other foundations, groups and individuals who have supported this campaign.”

The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation is named for Bany’s grandmother, Marie Lamfrom, who was born and raised in Germany, served as a nurse in World War I and fled to the United States in the 1930s after the Nazis came to power. Fondly known as “Bluebird,” Lamfrom was involved in Girl Scouts in Oregon for more than 44 years as a troop leader, board member and delegate to the national convention. She is lovingly remembered for her 20-year commitment to her Girl Scout troop at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. She also established a similar troop at Providence Hospital, and her rich legacy of Girl Scouting is now in its fourth generation.  

Bany’s father, Neal Boyle, lived in Youngstown as a child before attending the University of Arizona where he met his future wife, Gert Lamfrom, Marie’s daughter.

“This foundation’s link to Youngstown is the latest in a series of spontaneous Youngstown connections that have advanced the success of this project,” said Eric Planey, a statue committee member and former Youngstown resident who has coordinated much of the effort from his home in New Hamburg, New York.

Another key Youngstown tie-in was the original spark for the statue — Planey’s conversation in Virginia with his niece’s softball coach, also a former Youngstowner. When the coach learned of Planey’s roots, he related the story of the Robinson-Shuba handshake.

Another fortuitous connection was a former Youngstown-area resident who works for Major League Baseball and connected Planey with Jackie Robinson’s family. That opened the door for permission from the Robinsons to use Jackie’s name and likeness in the statue.

Plans call for the Robinson-Shuba statue to be dedicated in Wean Park on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the historic handshake. The statue will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and will be surrounded by seating to support programming about racial equality. BSHM Architects, a Youngstown-based firm, has donated the design work for the memorial. 

Marc Mellon, a Connecticut sculptor known for his bronze works honoring Pope John Paul II, Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama and many prominent athletes, recently completed the statue model. The model will be used to build the mold for casting the statue at the Bedi Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is known worldwide for crafting the Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington, D.C., and the Charging Bull in the New York financial district.

About the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue

The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue will be a monument to racial equality as symbolized by the handshake of Jackie Robinson and George Shuba on April 18, 1946. The statue campaign recently completed its $400,000 fundraising campaign. The Economic Action Group, a Youngstown-based nonprofit that promotes development in the city, has served as the project’s fiscal agent since the campaign began in late 2019. More information about the statue is available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:


Photo caption: Sally Bany is co-founder of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation.


Premier Bank and the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Project Committee today announced a grant of $15,000 from the Bank’s charitable foundation to support the statue planned for downtown Youngstown.

“We are pleased to support this statue and the important statement it will make about racial equality,” said Frank Hierro, Premier Bank Mahoning Valley regional president. “The principles of equality, fairness and teamwork are important to Premier Bank and our foundation; we’re looking forward to seeing this statue in Wean Park.”

The larger-than-life bronze statue will portray the 1946 handshake at home plate between Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown. 

Shuba stepped up from the on-deck circle to shake Robinson’s hand after two other teammates who scored on Robinson’s three-run homer in his debut game didn’t wait at home to greet him. Shuba’s gesture of acceptance during a period of open racism marked the start of racial integration in professional baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

“We appreciate the support of Premier Bank in our efforts to mark this important moment in Youngstown and American history,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the statue project committee. “George Shuba’s simple gesture of respect to an African-American teammate helped bring down the race barrier in mainstream professional baseball. We’re very proud of that in Youngstown and look forward to honoring the moment with this beautiful statue.”

Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue committee, added, “As teammates with the Montreal Royals and later with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie and George worked together successfully, despite being from different races and backgrounds. This statue aims to celebrate the mutual respect demonstrated by their historic handshake and encourage all of us to work together despite our differences.”

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the Robinson-Shuba statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The statue in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and be surrounded by seating that supports programming about racial equality.

Marc Mellon, the world-class Connecticut sculptor working on the statue, is known for works that have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes.  

Since announcing the statue project in late November 2019, the project committee has raised more than $236,000 toward its $400,000 goal. The Economic Action Group, a Youngstown-based nonprofit that promotes development in the city, has served as the project’s fiscal agent since the campaign began.

More information about the statue project can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:


Photo caption: Pictured are (from left) Greg Gulas, co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative State Committee; Lee Fields, Vice President, Community Development Officer, Premier Bank and Trish Gelsomino, Branch Manager, Youngstown Main Office, Premier Bank.


Supporters of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue today announced a grant of $25,000 from the John S. and Doris M. Andrews Memorial Fund, a component of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

“We are grateful for this generous contribution, which we see as an investment in sustaining the values this statue will celebrate,” said Ernie Brown, a co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “The towering statue of Jackie Robinson and George Shuba will remind Mahoning Valley residents and visitors that our community has a proud history of supporting racial equality.”

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley partners with individuals, families, businesses and non-profits to address charitable and philanthropic needs across Mahoning and Trumbull counties that improve the quality of life for all residents.

“The Foundation is proud to play a part in this project, serving as connector between the Robinson-Shuba committee and the advisors of the Andrews Memorial Fund to help move it one step closer to completion,” said Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation. “We hope this statue, once completed, will promote further conversations about race and racial equity in our local community and be a tool to facilitate additional education on the issues we face as a country.”

The larger-than-life bronze statue will portray the 1946 handshake at home plate between Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown.

Shuba stepped up from the on-deck circle to shake Robinson’s hand after two other teammates who scored on Robinson’s three-run homer in his debut game didn’t wait at home to greet him. Shuba’s gesture of acceptance during a period of open racism marked the start of racial integration in professional baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

Meanwhile, sculptor Marc Mellon recently completed the statue model, which will be used to create a mold for casting the bronze memorial. The statue will be cast at the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is known worldwide for crafting the Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington, D.C., and the Charging Bull in the New York financial district.

 

Dedication of the statue is scheduled for April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the Robinson-Shuba handshake. Situated in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, the memorial will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and be surrounded by seating that supports programming about racial equality.

“Many communities in America are struggling with race-related conflicts, but the Mahoning Valley has long been a place where people from different races and ethnic backgrounds could get along as teammates and friends,” said Greg Gulas, a co-chair of the statue committee. “We appreciate the support from the Andrews Fund and Community Foundation that enables us to spotlight this historic handshake.”

About the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley is a leader and advocate for strategic philanthropy, partnering with donors to anchor a permanent and growing endowment and making investments in the Mahoning Valley that improve the quality of life for all residents. The Community Foundation is the only local foundation with certification from the Community Foundation National Standards Board. More information is available at the foundation’s website, www.cfmv.org.

About the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue

The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue will be a monument to racial equality as symbolized by the handshake of Jackie Robinson and George Shuba on April 18, 1946. They played at the time for the Montreal Royals, a Minor League affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers, and also played together for the Dodgers in later years, including 1955, when the Dodgers won the World Series.

Since announcing the project in November 2019, the statue committee has raised more than $220,000, or more than half of its $400,000 goal. The Economic Action Group, a Youngstown-based nonprofit that promotes development in the city, has served as the project’s fiscal agent since the campaign began.

More information about the statue is available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:


Photo caption: Sculptor Marc Mellon applies finishing touches to the final model of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue, which will rise nearly 7 feet above its base in downtown Youngstown. Installation is scheduled for April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the historic Robinson-Shuba handshake.


The Robinson-Shuba statue project enjoyed tremendous publicity Sunday with the airing of CBS Sunday Morning‘s feature on the important memorial to racial equality. (View of a clip of the story here.)

Producers of the show estimate the audience at about 6 million viewers. Social media extended the reach. A CBS post with a clip of the show generated 7,300 likes on Facebook, as well as 1,600 shares. Twitter and Instagram posts also generated high engagement.

Here are some video clips CBS Sunday Morning posted on its social channels:

Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue today released 18 videos of statue donors and volunteers sharing the reasons they support the memorial planned for downtown Youngstown. (Click here to see the videos.) 

Those sharing their sentiments so far include Dr. Lou Zona, executive director of the Butler Institute of American Art; Darryl Anderson, network administrator for the City of Youngstown; Frank Nolasco, president of the Curbstone Coaches and members of the committee leading the statue project, among others. 

“This is a fun way to convey the grassroots support we’re generating, and we’re inviting all of our donors and volunteers to send us short videos we can publish on our YouTube channel and website,” said Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue project committee. More information is available from the Fans page on the statue project website, www.robinsonshuba.org/fans.

The statue, scheduled for dedication next year, will celebrate the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown. The pair shook hands at home plate after Robinson hit his first home run and after Shuba, the on-deck batter, noticed that neither of the two teammates who scored on the homer waited at home to congratulate Robinson.

“That 1946 handshake was huge and said a lot about Youngstown as a community where people respect and appreciate each other, regardless of their race,” said Ernie Brown, another project committee co-chair. “We’re very excited about spotlighting that moment with a beautiful, larger-than-life bronze statue in Wean Park.”Dedication of the statue is planned for April 18, the 75th anniversary of the Robinson-Shuba handshake. More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:

Supporters of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue today welcomed a $10,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Youngstown.

“This generous donation from Rotary brings us another step closer to making the Robinson-Shuba statue in downtown Youngstown a reality,” said Greg Gulas, a co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “We’re excited that this memorial to racial equality continues to draw support from so many individuals and organizations throughout the Mahoning Valley.”

Youngstown Rotary supports a wide range of Youngstown-area community service projects through funds raised by its members.

“As an international service organization, Rotary works to garner peace and equality among all people, and in our community this statue will help advance those goals,” said Samantha Turner, president of Rotary of Youngstown. “The statue will serve as a constant reminder that change is possible if we only open our minds, hearts and hands.”

The larger-than-life bronze statue will portray the 1946 handshake at home plate between Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and his white teammate from Youngstown, George Shuba.

Shuba stepped up from the on-deck circle to shake Robinson’s hand after two other teammates who scored on Robinson’s three-run homer in his debut game didn’t wait at home to greet the future Hall of Famer. Shuba’s gesture of acceptance during a period of open racism marked the beginning of the racial integration of professional baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

“In this time of racial strife in our country, the Robinson-Shuba statue will celebrate racial equality and the great things that can happen when people of different races can work together,” said Ernie Brown, a co-chair of the statue committee. “We appreciate the Youngstown Rotary’s support of the values this statue will memorialize.”

About the Rotary Club of Youngstown

The Rotary Club of Youngstown is one of more than 35,000 clubs in more than 200 countries that comprise Rotary International. Rotary International is a global service organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace. There are more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide.

The Rotary Club of Youngstown meets at 12 noon each Wednesday at Cassese’s MVR Restaurant on Walnut Street in Youngstown.

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the Robinson-Shuba statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The statue in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and Youngstown Amphitheatre, will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and be surrounded by seating that supports programming about racial equality.

Marc Mellon, the world-class Connecticut sculptor working on the statue, is known for works that have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes.

Since announcing the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Project in late November, the project committee has raised more than $190,000, or nearly half its $400,000 goal.

More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:

Supporters of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue today received grant donations totaling $15,000 from the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley on behalf of the Kennedy Family Fund and Arnett Family Fund.

“We appreciate this show of support as we continue moving this statue project forward,” said Ernie Brown, a co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “Our community supports the values this statue will memorialize and has been generous in ensuring its success.”

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley partners with individuals, families, businesses and non-profits to address charitable and philanthropic needs across Mahoning and Trumbull counties that improve the quality of life for all residents.

“By connecting the advisors of the Kennedy Family Fund and the Arnett Family Fund with the Robinson-Shuba statue, we were able to pool grantmaking dollars and contribute to a project that promotes conversations about race and equity in our community,” said Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation. “Making those connections for fund holders and supporting local projects like this are primary tenets of the Foundation’s work in the Valley.”

The larger-than-life bronze statue will portray the 1946 handshake at home plate between Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and his white teammate from Youngstown, George Shuba. 

Shuba stepped up from the on-deck circle to shake Robinson’s hand after two other teammates who scored on Robinson’s three-run homer in his debut game didn’t wait at home to greet the future Hall of Famer. Shuba’s gesture of acceptance during a period of open racism marked the beginning of the racial integration of professional baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

“As our country continues to deal with division and conflict along racial lines, the Robinson-Shuba statue will celebrate racial equality and the great things that unity and bridge-building can accomplish,” said Greg Gulas, a co-chair of the statue committee. “We value the Community Foundation’s partnership in our efforts.”

About the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley

The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley is a leader and advocate for strategic philanthropy, partnering with donors to anchor a permanent and growing endowment and making investments in the Mahoning Valley that improve the quality of life for all residents. The Community Foundation is the only local foundation with certification from the Community Foundation National Standards Board. More information is available at the foundation’s website, www.cfmv.org.

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the Robinson-Shuba statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The statue in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and Youngstown Amphitheatre, will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and be surrounded by seating that supports programming about racial equality.

Marc Mellon, the world-class Connecticut sculptor working on the statue, is known for works that have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes.  

Since announcing the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Project in late November, the project committee has raised more than $180,000, or more than 45 percent of its $400,000 goal. 

More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:

 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today published a feature story on the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue project.

Here’s the start of it.

The way Mike Shuba sees it, children from various elementary schools will visit downtown Youngstown, Ohio, and sit in a set of sandlot-style stands located in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

When they look up, they’ll see a statue of Jackie Robinson crossing home plate at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., and shaking hands with Mike’s father, Youngstown native George “Shotgun” Shuba, during a minor league game while with the Montreal Royals on April 18, 1946.

The image depicted might not look like anything special to a youngster in 2021, but that’s the entire point of the project, Mike Shuba said. Not only to commemorate Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier, but to celebrate a moment of acceptance, George Shuba extending a congratulatory right hand, when the two baserunners who had scored on Robinson’s home run snubbed the shortstop.

“I hope people will look at it as a corrective to what is going on today,” Mike Shuba said. “I hope it inspires people to do great things by looking at the statue and remembering this moment.”

Visit the Post-Gazette website to read the full story.

Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue in downtown Youngstown today released a rendering of the larger-than-life sculpture. 

Crafted by BSHM Architects, a Youngstown-based design firm, the rendering portrays the statue with seating areas, visitors and the city center in the background. The seating is sufficient to support a classroom size of students learning about the Jackie Robinson-George Shuba handshake and the importance of inclusion.  

With its walkways, the statue environment is designed to resemble a small baseball field.

“The statue will be a very visible addition to downtown Youngstown and an excellent place for scheduled events and informal reflection,” said Katie Spires, an architect with BSHM and member of the committee developing the memorial. “The rows of seating east of the statue can support scheduled programming, and the smaller seating areas on the other side will enable visitors to linger and reflect.” 

For a large, high-resolution version of the rendering, click here.

BSHM is donating its services for the project on a pro bono basis. In addition to the rendering, the firm has designed the statue environment and is working on securing building contractors for the site.   

Established in Youngstown in 1962, BSHM is known for designing dozens of prominent Ohio buildings, including the Ford Family Recital Hall and Mahoning Valley History Center in downtown Youngstown, along with the Beecher Center for Technology, McDonough Museum of Art and Maag Library on the Youngstown State University campus.

“We’re pleased to support the Robinson-Shuba statue and the very important message it will send about racial equality,” said Byron Manchester, president and chief executive officer at BSHM.

The statue will mark the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown. The larger-than-life memorial is scheduled for dedication on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the historic handshake.

The initial rendering of the statue is part of the package that will soon be submitted to the City of Youngstown Design Review Board for review and approval. Discussions recently began with labor unions and contractors interested in being part of the project.

More information about the statue project is available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Here are some Youngstown-area news articles about the new rendering:

 

“CBS Sunday Morning” visited Youngstown Monday to collect interviews and footage to support its upcoming story about the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue.

The CBS crew interviewed Mike Shuba, George’s son, and McDonald’s Restaurants operator Herb Washington, co-chair of the project committee (pictured above).

Steelite International America graciously donated use of its Commerce Building space for the day, and project volunteer Ray Klempay coordinated day-of details. The crew shot additional footage of Mike and Herb on Tuesday.

The “CBS Sunday Morning” segment is slated to run in the coming weeks.

Here are some local media stories about Monday’s shoot:

Below are some additional photos.

Herb Washington, project co-chair, talked to a CBS interviewer over Zoom during the shoot.
Ray Klempay kept things running smoothly with his attention to the details.
Mike Shuba recalled his father’s brave move. Much of the memorabilia on the set came from Mike’s collection.

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