MILWAUKEE — North Star providers, a Milwaukee-based philanthropic organization, is joining with Marquette University High School to host an evening soiree’ saluting Felix Mantilla, one of Major League Baseball’s first Latino players, on Saturday, April 2.Felix “El Gato” Mantilla enjoyed an illustrious professional baseball career that included two World Series appearances and a 1965 MLB All-Star selection. Mantilla played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1956 to 1961 including as starting second baseman for the 1957 World Series pennant game. (Submitted photo courtesy the National Baseball Hall of Fame/Cooperstown N.Y.)

Proceeds from the event will help fund a new Felix Mantilla Little League baseball exchange program that will not only allow young athletes to compete, but will contribute to their education and understanding of the world.

This summer, students from the Journey House’s Felix Mantilla Little League will travel to Puerto Rico to play in a tournament with local athletes. In summer 2017, players from Puerto Rico will visit Milwaukee.

The league is headquartered at the Journey House, 2110 W. Scott St., a community center that empowers families on Milwaukee’s near South Side to move out of poverty by offering adult education, youth development, workforce readiness and family engagement.

Michele Bria, Journey House CEO,  said the exchange will allow youth to travel and see more of the world, including rain forests and historical sites in Puerto Rico.

North Star Providers was founded in 2014 by Jan Neis, a graduate of St. John Vianney Elementary School, Brookfield, and Catholic Memorial High School, Waukesha, as a way to provide uplifting experiences for deserving individuals.

In February 2015, the organization transformed the MUHS cafeteria into an elegant venue and served a five star dinner to about 100 men, women and children from the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. About 250 other Rescue Mission clients unable to attend were treated to a takeout pizza party with cheesecake for dessert.

Mantilla, 81, had an illustrious 24-year baseball career including 969 MLB games, two World Series appearances, a 1965 All-Star Game selection and a 1954 Caribbean World Series championship. He was the second baseman for the 1957 championship Milwaukee Braves.

A native of Puerto Rico who makes his home in Milwaukee, he founded the Felix Mantilla Little League in 1972 in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.

The April 2 event at the MUHS Cannon Commons, 3401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., will include a reception, remarks, dinner and an auction.

For ticket information, call (414) 378-7408, email or visit

Contributions to underwrite the July 2016 and July 2017 exchange trips are also welcome.