Posted by Kate Ropchak

Darin Mastroianni, Board Director of the Twins Community Fund

Club President Dan O’Brien introduced August 15th speaker Darin Mastroianni, Board Director of the Twins Community Fund, a former Twins MLB player, and Dan’s son-in-law. After playing baseball for most of his life, Dan was drafted out of college and has since played on many MLB teams including the Twins and the Blue Jays. As a former player and current coach for youth summer baseball programs, Dan values patience and perseverance in order to increase access to the game he loves.
Although most major and minor league teams have community funds, the Twins Community Fund (TCF) is among the largest and most far-reaching projects to spread the love of baseball to disadvantaged youth. Unsure what to do next after playing professional baseball for 10 years, Dan worked with Kevin of the TCF and proclaimed it his “favorite opportunity” in his career. The TCF was established after the Twins won the World Series in order to give youth increased access to baseball, whether that be through providing equipment, building new fields, or staffing summer programs to teach the game. The fund also donates money to help communities rebuild after disasters such as COVID-19 or Hurricane Nicole in Florida, where the Twins summer training facilities are located. The RBI program specifically targets low-income families in cities who have less access to fields.

Dan shared several personal anecdotes about his time coaching for TCF youth summer leagues.
He explained the effects of negative experiences with coaches on childrens’ mental health and willingness to return to baseball, and underlined the importance of kind communication between coaches, parents, and players. As a coach, Dan strives to teach kids skills such as motivation, sportsmanship, teamwork, and resilience that are applicable to all areas of life, not just baseball. Dan admitted that his first year coaching proved to be one of the most difficult things he’s ever done, but that the experience helped him realize how coaching on the teams needed to change to support the children as best as possible.

In 2021, the TCF gave $1.5 million to support baseball in communities in need. They also gave away tickets and transportation to Twins games, built adaptive baseball fields for children with disabilities, brought 80 young girls into summer baseball camps, and provided 64 free summer baseball clinics. In 2022, that number increased to 120 summer clinics. Though Dan explained that the TCF is supported by stipends in Twins players’ contracts as well as the Twins Fest Fundraiser, the fund relies on grants given through their online application to continue helping these communities. Dan encouraged Rotary members to reach out to him or other board members of the TCF if they want to help by reporting possible field rebuilds, funding classes or grants to train new umpires during the shortage, or donating to Playball MN which looks to integrate education into the TCF program.

Vocational:  Gary Bergren

Gary joined EPAM Rotary in 1982. Gary was born in Iowa and moved to Minnesota when his father got a job here. He graduated from Hopkins High School and the University of Minnesota. He has been married to his wife for 55 years.
Gary attended graduate school at the University of Washington, receiving a degree in Economics. He served in the Vietnam War.
After the war, Gary went into the investment business. After his father started a business with hydraulic motors, Gary joined that company. About twenty years ago, Gary sold that company and retired.
Gary reports that Dan O’Brien is his favorite Rotarian! Dan noted that Gary is a past president of EPAM Rotary.

Future Meetings:

  • August 29—Don Anderson, Founder/Owner/Head Brewer of Fat Pants Brewing will speak.
  • September 5—NO meeting.
  • September 14—Swallowship (5:00—7:00 pm) at Fat Pants.
  • September 19—Erik Beckler will speak on “The Four Fundamental Forces of Leadership”.
  • October 3—Our speaker will be Jewelie Grape, District 5950 Governor.


  • The People’s Patchwork Community Garden is thriving! Watering help is needed 8/19—8/20. Sign up online via email or contact Lori Thrune.
  • The Garden Party is August 17 from 5:00—7:00pm at Jan Eian’s house. There is still time to sign up.
  • “Pack the Park” for Feed My Starving Children is August 23. Sign up via Blake’s email.
  • The Back to School Backpacks drive is currently accepting school supplies and monetary donations. See Blake’s email for details or contact him directly.
  • Blake said that our club will be collecting snow pants, coats and mittens for PROP this fall. More details to come.
  • Blake discussed some ideas for upcoming social events—pickleball in September and Swallowship at the Flying Dutchman Distillery in October.

Happy Fives:

  • Josh Swanson is please to announce that this is the 100th year of the Eden Prairie School District. The district will be celebrating all year long. The District kick-off will be on August 29 with an Intergenerational choir. All are welcome to join the choir. Josh will send out an email with details.
  • Sharon Borine is happy for the much-needed recent rain.
  • Nate Nyren said that his father-in-law has been diagnosed with ALS. His father-in-law was recently denied coverage by the V.A. for an expensive ALS medication. However—after an appeal to the VA representative--Nate is happy to report that coverage for this medication has now been approved.
  • Kevin Kraemer said that this is his daughter’s last year in 4-H. The family is now participating in a new event that they are all enjoying—Ranch Rodeo.
  • Tim Conners reported that Irene Kelly was interviewed recently by KSTP news for her promotion of the vision for the 3rd precinct building in Minneapolis.
  • Dan O’Brien has a birthday coming up on August 22. He will be 73. Dan and his wife are heading to France soon on a Viking cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.