Almost twenty years ago, my wife Amy Tress Holdsman, joined the board of directors of Philabundance, a local hunger relief organization. I remember vividly her reasoning for why she was compelled to the mission and function of this organization. Amy said its work was basic and needed. It brought excess food which otherwise would have gone bad to people who otherwise would have gone hungry. This marriage of surplus food with hungry people clearly appealed to my wife’s attraction to “elegant simplicity.”
Two decades later, I have begun thinking about Philadelphia Youth Basketball in similar ways. Our city and region have thousands of young people who are hungry for positive coaches and mentors in their lives, and opportunities to play the game of basketball. Kids also want a safe, youth-centered space in which they are valued, visible, and have a voice. Kids want chances to explore their gifts and talents, become stronger students, and be more potent leaders within their peer group, families, schools, and communities.
Simultaneously, our city and region have an abundance of adults who care deeply about young people and value the power of the game of basketball when blended with off-the-court educational supports. Some of these adults are skilled coaches and instructors who would like part-time employment in our programs over months and years. Some would like volunteer opportunities to work directly with kids, or to help organize an event, or to serve on a committee to help build an organization and a center. Others have the desire and capability to donate financial resources, and to encourage their friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Many people are seeking additional meaning and purpose in their lives, and want well-structured and relevant ways to engage with an organization like PYB.
I believe that PYB is rapidly becoming a powerful vessel for citizen participation. We have developed an ambitious and compelling idea for community empowerment and social impact. We are creating opportunities for people to “lean in” and to help us achieve our goals, brick by brick.