Homeless student-athletes will be coached to improve academic, social and basketball skills
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (Nov 17, 2020) – President and CEO Kirk Ray Smith of Hope Villages of America, formerly RCS Pinellas, announced today an exciting new partnership with The Basketball Warehouse that will benefit the school-aged kids staying at Grace House and Goldsmith Gardens.
“Without question, Smith said, “there is a correlation between social challenges and academic performance. It’s also true that athletics are an excellent tool for the development of life and social skills. This partnership allows us to develop young people and provide a much-needed distraction from the challenges they’re facing.”
Each year Hope Villages (HVA) staff and volunteers serve individuals and families with care and compassion. “We help those in need who are the most vulnerable among us get back onto a path of self-sufficiency with dignity,” said Smith of their work with more than 130,000 participants—or about 15 percent of the Pinellas County population. Homeless families are one of the fastest-growing demographics they serve. “There are only 180 beds for homeless families in Pinellas County, which has a population of almost 1 million people. HVA provides nearly half of those beds, and Grace House provides dignified apartment-style emergency shelter to homeless families with children for up to two months,” Smith reported.
Grace House staff work one-on-one with families, providing case management, education, job readiness and helping guests save money to secure stable housing. “We are proud to report that fully 90 percent of families who complete the program move to stable housing.”
Goldsmith Gardens provides affordable housing for families, who sign a one-year lease as they transition to stable housing.
HVA focuses on nurturing and developing the children in their programs as well as supporting their parents in finding employment and secure housing to return to self-sufficiency. “Academic and athletic development opportunities for kids are just one of the diverse wraparound services we provide at HVA to help interrupt the cycle of poverty,” said Smith. “We support not only the whole person but the whole family to reach self-sufficiency.”
The Basketball Warehouse’s mission to provide student-athletes a safe, nurturing after-school environment that fosters individuality, a love for basketball and a delight in learning dovetails perfectly with HVA’s approach. The Basketball Warehouse will offer on-site academic support, enrichment opportunities, and health/fitness activities through basketball clinics to the Grace House and Goldsmith Gardens student-athletes through this new partnership.
The Basketball Warehouse’s Coach Allen Williams said, “Our motto at the Warehouse has always been ‘do what you do.’ Which basically means be the best version of yourself and do what you do best. We want to give these kids the opportunity to do what they do and be the best they can be.”
“The environment at The Basketball Warehouse is one of diversity, integrating student-athletes from different schools, neighborhoods, economic and cultural backgrounds, encouraging them to work together in team activities and tutoring sessions to become better prepared for society,” explained Smith. “Their programs are fun for our kids and also keep them safe and help them achieve success in school and life.”
Learn how you can help homeless students at rcspinellas.org.
About Hope Villages of America: Formerly RCS Pinellas (RCS), the organization established in 1967, is a registered 501(c)(3) organization that addresses the needs of the hungry, homeless and victims of domestic violence in Pinellas County. This mission is advanced through five distinct but integrated programs: The Food Bank, Basic Services, Affordable Housing, The Haven Domestic Violence Shelter and Grace House. These programs operate in more than 60,000 square feet of service space and serve more than 130,000 participants annually throughout Pinellas County. In 2019 RCS was awarded GuideStar’s Gold Seal of Transparency for the second year in a row and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce Biggest Community Impact award. For more information, visit www.rcspinellas.org or call 727-584-3528.