Unsung heroes have struck again and few people know about them. They are called the Boys of Belvedere and they are all retired gentlemen who once attended Garfield High School and played baseball when they were in elementary schools at Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles.
They are also a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) club.
Two days before Thanksgiving, they could be seen delivering food boxes containing turkeys with all the trimmings (100 in all) to churches, veterans and schools to be distributed to needy families in six different communities.
The following Saturday, they were seen helping the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s station distributing over 200 boxes of food for the Annual Sheriff’s Children Christmas Party across the street from Obregon Park in East Los Angeles.
On Monday, it was off to the City of Commerce at the East Los Angeles Veterans Center where 12 needy veteran families were allowed to celebrate Christmas early with the help of Kinecta Federal Credit Union. Gifts were given out to all members of the family in what turned out to be a very merry Christmas, indeed. Then Friday the Boys went to the Elks Club in San Gabriel and helped celebrate Christmas again with the veterans who are going through combat support group counseling and helped provide gifts for all the children.
President Eddie Preciado said, “This is something we do out of love. No one has us here; there are no headquarters or statewide organization watching us. We do this because other people care as much as we do and help us by donating much needed items for the communities we serve.”
The Boys of Belvedere all started when a sports director, who showed them all how to play ball and stay out of trouble, was about to retire. The coach spent 35 years at Belvedere Park and no one was even going to honor the man. The guys all got together and pitched in for a banquet and gifts to honor their beloved coach. The good that came out of that project helped them put together fundraisers and in 2007 gave out their first scholarship to a Garfield High student.
Then the following year gave three, then seven the next year and so on.
In 2013 there were 23 scholarships given out to Garfield, Montebello and Shurr High Schools and plans are to continue the practice and expand the program to enlist more high schools.
Vice President Dr. Hector Flores, Jr. added, “We spread the word and have found that there are people and companies willing to help out needy people, children, veterans and seniors who could use a little joy in their life.”
The Boys themselves also raise money by sponsoring dances, day-at-the races at Santa Anita, raffles for a big screen television and turnarounds to casinos. The 12 members are constantly brainstorming for other projects. In the beginning, the club was more of a social get-together for all the guys who went to school back in the day. Reminiscing was the extent of activity until funds got low and they thought about how disappointed they would make some kids who wanted to go to college and really needed the help. With that in mind, the club made goals and exceeded them every year. It was no longer just a social club, it had a purpose, a chance to give back to the community they grew up in. Members say, “No one ever did this for us. We were on our own despite our parents telling us to go to work and forget college”. Many were also drafted or enlisted in the armed forces. Every member served in the military during the Vietnam-era except for one who was way too young to serve because he graduated from Garfield in 1980.
The Boys of Belvedere has always been there for the kids but not always willing to allow stories in the press. They preferred to quietly do their job and really wanted no recognition from the public. Many feel because of their age, they do not need to prove anything to anyone. Even within the club there is no recognition of members who have done a great job. The “amazing dozen” will quietly take on another project in the community and disappear before anyone can thank the “Angels of Maravilla” for all they have done.