SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt works for causes that range from fighting human trafficking to encouraging socially active teenagers to helping homeless youths. But they're linked by a common denominator.
"To sum up what I do, I'm trying to help eliminate social injustice," Affeldt said recently. "So whether it be trafficking, lack of food, lack of water, lack of having a place to live or poverty areas, everything I do, I'm trying to figure out how to fight for a human life when it comes to dreaming big."
Affeldt, the Giants' 2011 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, believes strongly not just in the power of one's dreams, but also the basic right to dream.
"When it comes to injustice, you don't have that ability to dream, because you're being trafficked, so you're being told what to do and sold into slavery," Affeldt said. "Or you can tell me to dream really big. But if I'm going to die the next day because I don't have any water or food, then I'm not going to chase a dream. I'm going to chase a way to eat or drink.
"I think the older you get, your dreams become visions. So now, I have a vision for my life. But the dreamers are the young ones. When they quit dreaming, they no longer have a vision for their life. And when they don't have vision, they perish. So I'm trying to start from the bottom, trying to give them the ability to dream a little bit."
All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve 1972, when the plane he was using to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed.
Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 9.
The fan-ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder.
Voting fans will also be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2011 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.
Affeldt, 32, remains affiliated with Not For Sale/Free2 Play, an organization that assists young adults who are coming out of the world of human trafficking and slavery.
He also serves as the Giants' representative for the Jefferson Awards Students In Action Program, an organization that engages high school students in volunteering efforts in their community.
In addition, Affeldt works with homeless teens in San Francisco through the Larkin Street Youth Services Organization. He's also involved with his own foundation, The Jeremy Affeldt Foundation, which focuses on youth ministry.
Affeldt's acutely sensitive to the yearnings of others.
"I think behind every face is a drama unfolding," he said. "It doesn't matter if your life is going really, really well or your life's really, really bad. I think there's always drama there."
The young and suffering, Affeldt believes, "don't hide their drama. they just lay it out and say, 'This is where I'm at. I've got no choice.'"
Affeldt won't rest until everybody within his potential sphere of influence has some sort of choice.
"I just want to help people, in general, because there's a lot of pain in people's lives," Affeldt said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.