Monday, June 17, 2024

Yankees HOPE Week Day 1: Rehan Staton & The Reciprocity Effect


Provided by New York Yankees.

The Yankees inaugurated the latest edition of HOPE Week on Monday by honoring Rehan Staton, who rose up from being a trash collector to graduating from Harvard Law School, and he currently works for a New York City law firm.

Before he graduated from Harvard, Staton started The Reciprocity Effect, a nonprofit that honors support staff affiliated with educational institutions and corporations and provides aid to those affected by personal hardships and catastrophes.

There was a ceremony to recognize employees from the waste collection and recycling firm Interstate Waste Services. It was held in the 100 Level of the Legends Suites Club at Yankee Stadium, and Staton was joined by Yankees players Gerrit Cole, Clarke Schmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, Jon Berti and Nick Burdi.

The ceremony at the Legends Suite Club. Provided by New York Yankees.

Each Interstate employee received an award of recognition from Staton  during the ceremony, and the group enjoyed a catered lunch from Legends Hospitality, as well as took a photo on the field.

Staton received the President's Volunteer Service Award, which is given by AmeriCorps. The New York Yankees Foundation made a $10,000 donation to The Reciprocity Effect.

Provided by New York Yankees.

Rehan Staton with the President's Volunteer Service Award. Provided by New York Yankees.

Rehan Staton speaking to the group. Provided by New York Yankees.

HOPE WEEK HONOREE - REHAN STATON: (Provided by New York Yankees)

Education is the one thing no one can take away from you, and for 28-year-old former trash collector Rehan Staton, that sentiment couldn’t ring truer.

Last year, Staton graduated from Harvard Law School and accepted a job at the Paul, Weiss law firm in New York City. However, just a few years prior, he was a sanitation worker in his home state of Maryland, earning money to support himself in his single-parent household while trying to find a way into college. After being inspired by his colleagues at Bates Trucking and Trash Removal to give applying to college a second try, he was accepted to Bowie State University and eventually transferred to the University of Maryland. He graduated in 2018 as the undergraduate commencement speaker.

When things began to look up, another roadblock presented itself. In 2019, Rehan was bedridden with an unknown illness that left him unable to work, leaving his family financially insecure. Staton began studying for the LSAT while nursing himself back to health. With the help of his cousin, who’d come over every day to provide support, Staton’s perseverance paid off, as he was accepted to Harvard.

A video of Rehan’s reaction to his acceptance went viral and caught the attention of award-winning actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry, who generously paid for all of Staton’s law school tuition. Rehan received other financial assistance through a GoFundMe page that raised over $200,000 from more than 3,000 donors.

“No one does it alone,” Staton said. “Just keep paying it forward.”

And Staton has certainly walked that walk. During his time at Harvard, Rehan formed a bond with the custodians, cafeteria employees and security workers at the university.

“I remember what it was like, working that type of job,” Staton said of his “aunts and uncles,” who don’t receive much recognition or acknowledgement. “When I see them, I see me. I view them as my equals, my peers.”

Rehan set out to do more for those workers than just befriending them. His mission to salute their efforts began with handing out Amazon gift cards and eventually blossomed into co-founding the non-profit organization The Reciprocity Effect, alongside Brent Bates, his former colleague and assistant operations manager at Bates Trucking and Trash Removal. Bates, who encouraged Staton to pursue his studies at the University of Maryland, donated $50,000 to help start the nonprofit.

“At every point in my life, I can say it was through the act of someone’s reciprocity that I was allowed to get to the next level,” explained Staton. “I’ve never seen something come full circle like this. The same sanitation company that changed my life, I came back to them, and they said, ‘We’ll be right there with you.’”

The Reciprocity Effect launched in April 2023, hosting a banquet to recognize the Harvard Law School support staff. Prior to that, Staton hosted a “thank you” note drive in November 2022, which galvanized more than 250 students to write letters of thanks to the staff. Rehan also helped to raise over $70,000 with the assistance of his fellow students. The second annual banquet to honor Harvard Law School support staff was held at the university earlier this year on April 2.

As a part of HOPE Week 2024, the Yankees are honoring Rehan for not only the journey he took to find success, but also for all he’s doing to give back to those whose shoes he once was in.

“I didn’t want to change after going to Law School,” Staton said. “The allure is huge. I went to work in fancy places. I made cool connections and friendships. But I don’t want to forget who I am.”

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