The organizers for the fourth annual Hoops for Homeless basketball extravaganza accept a $5,000 donation from the Petit Family Foundation.
NEW BRITAIN — Dr. William Petit understands that kids who are homeless face greater obstacles when it comes to getting an education.
He also knows that the fourth annual Hoops for Homeless basketball extravaganza slated for April 30 on the streets of downtown New Britain will go a long way toward helping homeless kids get a leg up when it comes to school and having a stable life.
For the second year in a row the Petit Family Foundation has sponsored the event, which features a three-on-three basketball tournament with more than 50 teams, with another $5,000 donation.
“We thought it was such an important mission we gave them a sponsorship” Petit said of the first donation the foundation gave Hoops for Homeless last year.
Last week as the foundation handed over the second $5,000 donation to organizers Attorney Paul Zagorsky, New Britain schools attendance director Joe Vaverchak and Central Connecticut State University professor Jacob Werblow, Petit said he liked that the event and the organization was about people in community getting together to help a great cause.
“We are about helping people who are at risk for violence and helping kids get an education,” Petit said. “We really felt it was important and we try to help as many organizations as we can.”
The money raised by the tournament goes toward several member agencies and organizations including the Prudence Crandall Center, which houses women and families escaping domestic violence; the Friendship Center, which houses homeless families; the Boys & Girls Club; and Road to Recovery, a program started by Vaverchak for the more than 300 kids in the New Britain school system who are homeless.
“I wish I could say the problem of youth homelessness is going away but if anything it’s increasing,” Vaverchak said.
The Road to Recovery program gives homeless kids, whether they are living in a shelter or doubled up with family, vital supplies including toiletries, school uniforms, school supplies and casual clothing. Last year they helped close to 400 kids, Vaverchak said.
The money raised by Hoops for Homeless provides gift cards, scholarships and other essentials for kids who are homeless. “Through Hoops for Homeless we’re able to raise awareness for domestic violence and homelessness,” said Barbara Damon, executive director of the Prudence Crandall Center. “The proceeds from the event help support the services at our emergency shelter.”
Damon said the shelter has been running at 125 percent capacity for six months. “We’re so grateful that this group of committed partners has come together to plan the event with the Petit Foundation as a sponsor,” Damon said. “This really helps to raise awareness and to raise money to help homeless kids.”
The annual event is coordinated by a team of volunteers including Zagorsky, Werblow, Vaverchak and others in the community who organize a day-long event that features basketball with portable hoops on the streets of downtown New Britain. Teams from across the state play with CCSU basketball team members acting as referees.
There are divisions for children in the fifth-grade and above, and adults. The registration fee for teams is $50. The tournament is held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. In the event of rain, the tournament will be moved to May 1.