Carlos Delgado took time out from the offseason to speak with student volunteers during the initial meeting of the New York Action Team last week.

The gathering of students from Cathedral High School in Manhattan, Queens Vocational and Technical School and Queens High School for Arts and Business are among the student groups from across the country that are beginning the fifth and most ambitious year yet in the Action Team partnership between the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America.

Started in Denver in 2003 as a pilot program to encourage student volunteerism, there are now Action Teams in 16 cities with more than 200 students serving as Action Team captains. The Action Team's message of volunteerism also will reach more than 700,000 high school students in upwards of 5,000 classrooms through the Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition.

The initial meeting of the New York Action Team at the MLBPA offices brought together students from the three schools who will work together to swell the city's ranks of student volunteers during the current school year.

After brief introductions, the students discussed their hopes for the program and its role in improving their communities. Led by representatives from the Volunteers of America and the Players Trust, the Action Team captains discussed past volunteer work, goals for the future and their task of inspiring and training the next generation of volunteers.

All of the students had participated in some type of previous volunteer effort, from Walk-A-Thon's for various causes, to food and clothing drives. Understanding the importance of volunteering at a young age is essential to the Action Team philosophy and makes these New York high school students prime candidates to lead their community as the first New York Action Team captains.

Some of the students are athletes themselves and talked about their coaches and teams being an inspiration for them to become Action Team captains.

"Coach Rob (Schimenz) always tells us that our team is like a family and it is important for us to do good things together and help each other and our community," said Carlin Vizcaino, who joined the Action Team with three of his baseball teammates from the Queens Vocational and Technical School.

The highlight of the evening came when the Action Team Captains got the unexpected telephone call from Delgado, who is one of the Action Team volunteers on the Mets. The students asked Delgado questions about his experience with volunteering and the effect it has had on his life.

Delgado spoke about the impact Roberto Clemente had on his life, on and off the playing field. Delgado, who wears No. 21 as a tribute to Clemente, was the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006 which honors Major Leaguers for their on-field performance and community service. He also told the students about the personal rewards associated with helping people who are less fortunate.

After the discussion with Delgado, the Action Team captains participated in a public speaking workshop hosted by Neil Lisnow and Bruce Acton from Dale Carnegie Training. They learned public speaking techniques - an essential skill for the Action Team captains who will work to recruit more volunteers throughout the school year.

Since the program's inception, Action Teams comprised of Major Leaguers and high school students have inspired more than 9,000 young people to volunteer. Working closely with players, high school students participate in a variety of Action Team-organized, school-based volunteer programs. They also participate in Volunteers of America's programs which serve at-risk children and youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, homeless individuals and families, and many others. Projects include reading to children; serving meals at homeless shelters and senior centers; collecting food, clothing and gifts; and hosting holiday activities.

The 16 cities in which the Action Team will be active this season are: Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.