On its surface, Hoops 4 Hope is a basketball league specifically created for individuals experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So how can basketball bring deeper values such as empowerment, stress alleviation, building community, providing a sense of normalcy, positive future oriented thoughts, developing relationships and interpersonal skills, and many more? Let me briefly tell you the history to explain.
After a successful pilot season in 2015 partly inspired by a class she was taking at the time Victoria Urban, or Tori, knew she had found something deeper than just a sports league. The league, which ran for 12 weeks, consisted of 4 teams made up of residents from 4 Philadelphia based shelters. The excitement rose from week to week and the feedback that Tori received from the players after the season spoke to things much larger than sports including comradery and connectedness, peace of mind, motivation to stay out of trouble, and hope. But the league cost money and Tori knew that despite the generosity of her family and friends, for the league to survive it needed more sustainable income.
After a 4-year hiatus, Hoops 4 Hope was ready to expand. First new team members were brought on including Leo Porth, Dia Swan, and Gerald Evariste. Next the team planned out and executed a fundraiser, which included prizes and giveaways and attracted over 100 people and more than tripled the pilot season’s original budget. With the additional funding the H4H team was able to secure a new gym, expand the league to a 5th shelter, add an additional 3 weeks to the season to reach 15 weeks in total, have cases of water bottles ready for the players during the game, and pizza for afterwards.. Additionally, before the season team members used the funds to buy jerseys, shorts, shoes, and socks, so that no one who was interested but did not have the proper attire would feel excluded.
In addition to the season, Hoops 4 Hope was able to get guest speakers, a weekend tournament at Haverford College, a donation drive, and several press interviews and media exposure. Suddenly word of this grass roots project began to spread. In order to supplement the growth, Hoops 4 Hope applied for and was granted nonprofit status, created a multidisciplinary board of directors, welcomed several new volunteers, and created a web page.
Unfortunately, the unforeseen happened and Covid-19 temporarily put a screeching halt to what would have been another huge leap forward with the 2020 season. That being said the team over at Hoops 4 Hope is still planning and scheming how to make our next season, hopefully in 2021, our most successful yet. We have our sights set on continuing to partner with other new organizations and businesses which will allow us to offer our players additional supportive services and opportunities to positively move forward with their lives outside of the game of basketball.
All donations will assist us with uniforms, gym space, transportation, food and beverages, referee fees, insurance fees, and additional fees associated with other league events and services. Any and all amounts are deeply appreciated.
*For additional information about Hoops 4 Hope, follow us on social media and check out our website, Hoops4hopephilly.com*
Thank you for your support!!
The H4H Team