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For the Win

When the Houston Astros won the World Series in November 2017, Twila Carter celebrated alongside fellow Houston residents and fans. This was the first World Series win for the team, and the victory came at just the right time—on the heels of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey just a few months before.

“It was a much-needed distraction for the entire city,” said the member of Twin Creeks DAR Chapter, Shenandoah, Texas. “Some people lost everything, and yet they talked about how exciting it was to watch the Astros win.”

For many Astros fans, winning the World Series can’t be topped. But Ms. Carter, who is executive director of the Astros Foundation and senior vice president of community relations, knows a big win is only the beginning. “I work in the feel-good side of baseball, so I know that winning the World Series means more support for our organization and a greater ability to help those in need,” she said.

The foundation has four main focus areas—youth baseball, homelessness, military appreciation and childhood cancer. Last year, it added a fifth—relief efforts in the wake of August 2017’s devastating hurricane. Astros owners and the foundation have already donated $4 million to Hurricane Harvey relief, and fundraising is still underway.

Ms. Carter started working for the Astros when Jim Crane purchased the franchise in 2011. She had previously worked for the owner in various capacities for more than a decade. She oversaw the construction of an airplane hangar and a 350,000-square-foot corporate headquarters. When she started with the Astros, she was the project manager for renovations to Minute Maid Park, including the addition of VIP rooms, a new team store and the Astros clubhouse. She also helped start the $18 million Community Leaders program, which renovates baseball and softball fields in city-owned public parks, ensuring at-risk Houston youth have a safe place to play.

After the World Series win, Ms. Carter received a letter of appreciation from a member of the community where one of the ballparks was installed. “He said that long before the Astros won the World Series, he already knew we were champions because of what we did for his community,” she recalled.

Ms. Carter thrives not on awards or recognition—although she’s received plenty of both—but on reactions, like the stunned silence of a sold-out crowd witnessing an on-field deployment ceremony for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion of the Texas National Guard in 2015, before it deployed to the Middle East.

“There were 42,000 people in the stands, and none of them made a peep as they witnessed this amazing sacrifice,” she said.

There was also the time the Astros invited local military families to a game—and surprised them with video messages from their loved ones deployed in Afghanistan.

“I cry every time I watch the footage,” she said. “It was a small thing for us to coordinate, but it made the biggest difference to these families.”

Ms. Carter credits her late grandfather for helping her understand the sacrifices service members make. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17, during World War II, but didn’t talk to Ms. Carter about his service until he was much older.

“He was part of something so horrific, things we can’t even imagine, but he never lost sight of how proud he was to have served,” she said. “If there was a flag flying, even at a car dealership, he would stop to salute it.”

Her grandfather also inspired her to become more involved in the DAR. “When I saw his unfailing pride, a switch was flipped in me and I realized I had to do all I could to honor those who have given so much to our country,” Ms. Carter said. “And I am very fortunate that I get to do that through my work and service in DAR.”

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