A non-profit youth sports organization targeting underprivileged youth. Great idea. But can I do it?

        I live in a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It is a lower income city, in the northeastern  part of the state. We are about 15 minutes from Scranton and about 90 minutes from Philadelphia. At one point it used to be a nice place to live but over the years it has become crime ridden. In fact it is number 18 on the list of top murder cities, did I say that right. Everyday the drug use and crime seems to sucking up another kid and spit them out. There isn’t an inexpensive   place for a kid to play and learn fundamentals in a sport. The cheapest  basketball is $50 bucks at the CYC, a place where the refs told me if they called every foul there would be no score. This is an instructional  league. Any type of travel team or AAU  team gets very expensive. Many of the kids around here are unable to play because of their financial  situation. You would think the YMCA or CYC or someone  would offer a spring program or summer program at an affordable  price. They do not. Nor does the city. I wrote my Congressman Matt Cartwright  several days ago asking him for some direction  and he never responded. Who is there for these kids?

         I want to start a non-profit  youth sports organization  for underprivileged  children. I want to concentrate  on 2 sports, basketball and soccer. Those are the 2 sports you need the least amount of equipment for. Less money for families to spend. I want to offer these kids an option other then drugs, drinking, fighting, gangs or whatever else they may get into. I want to offer a kid the same opportunity  a wealthy kid gas, why punish a child for a parents station in life. I see so many incredible athletes who lack the fundamentals of their sport. For basketball at the CYC, you get 1 hour of practice a week. You get the privilege of playing school teams who practice quite a bit more. Many kids spirits are crushed because of this. A kid who I’d fundamentally sound can compete with less talent, causing that kid to carry better grades, stay out of trouble and stick with their commitment. I don’t think we should be getting wealthy off of kids playing sports, AAU and travel soccer teams. Why aren’t the kids coming first?

          I want to be able to defer cost through federal, state and corporate grants. I want this to focus completely on the forgotten youths of a dying city. Anyone who has played a sport will tell you that it helps you in many other aspects of life. You learn a work ethic, discipline, teamwork, confidence and make lasting friendships. Through all of this you avoid trouble or you cannot play or be with these friends. Some kids can get an athletic scholarship because of this, some will get an academic  scholarship because they work harder to keep good grades because they want to play and go to college. It changes how many kids life daily. Why not offer a program that helps them?

         When the kids would enter are program there will be certain obligations  they must meet for us to defer their costs.
1) They must maintain a B average in school. If I a kid needs help, I would like to offer a tutoring program. Education is the key.
2) They must stay out of trouble. Any detention or suspension will be met with the same at our program. If it us a continuing problem we will refer it to a facility to help. We will try not to leave a kid behind. But they must realize there are repercussions for your actions.
3) They will be required to do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or any other program that requires volunteers to help the needy. To teach them empathy, compassion  and remind them that there are people who have it worse. After my daughter did these with the Key Club at G.A.R. High School she couldn’t wait to go back to help again.
4) To participate and help organize community outreach programs periodically. Several times a year. Anything to reach out to help those less fortunate, even if it is a free basketball or soccer tournament. Through this they will hopefully take pride in their community and look for ways to help improve it.
5) Summer programs and clinics that the kids can help teach. Teach them to give to others in order to help them improve their situation.
Most importantly I want to keep them off the street and out of trouble. Have impromptu  3 on 3 basketball  tournaments, 5 on 5 soccer tournaments. For those that want to play AAU or travel soccer, we will offer those programs but ask the kids to hand out flyers or participate  in fund eaising, all with a qualified adult present. I would like in the summer to offer child care to low income families. Several hours a day. Introduce them to a sport, get them outside and active. Have dodge ball tournaments. We need to fight childhood  obesity  as well.

            I would also like to offer affordable clinics for coaches. Youth coaches effect a child more then many people realize. It would help if they had proper training that didn’t eat up a lot of their time or money. Youth coaches are typically volunteers. They deserve some thanks in this grueling process. The better the coach, the better chance a child has. I want to build a facility  with several indoor courts, several outdoor courts, 2 high school size soccer fields and 2 small children soccer fields. Maybe I am being naive, but I believe this is needed where I live and in most other areas. Why can’t we be the template everyone else follows? I know some areas offer something similar to this. Now is the time for Wilkes-Barre  to offer it.   If you want to take your community back, wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point? Now to figure out how to get it done. Any ideas?

Wilkes-Barre, a town in need of serious help.

I live in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. I have lived here the majority of my life. Growing up it was a decent community. The crime was never really out of control and people tended to look out for one another. Murders were relatively non-existent. It had your typical crimes like any other community. It was a nice place to live.

It has changed quite a bit over the years. Drug use and peddling has decimated this once pleasant community. Wilkes-Barre is located between New York and Philadelphia. It apparently looked like an easy target for the drug pushers. In 2013 we have had 13 murders, more per capita then parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City. All but 2 of these murders were connected with drugs, with the majority being committed by people from outside the area.

There are about 41,000 people living in the city. We have 81 police officers. We are supposed to have 91, but our mayor does not believe we need a full complement. 7 officers recently retired and there are at least 4 that were hurt while on duty. 2 of which most likely will not return. So that leaves us at 74 officers. Mayor Tom Leighton recently said the city was hiring 10 officers. He neglected to mention the retirees. He also said he doesn’t believe there is a crime problem in Wilkes-Barre. It seems as if his head is buried in the sand.

Facebook is used by 40% of the people in the U.S. daily. As much garbage that you find on there, you also find some very useful sites. I follow several Crime Watch pages, with Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch 2 being my preferred page. Before I go on I would like to say that I know the Police work hard. I know that it is a difficult job. I believe our area needs at least 100 if not 120 officers to stop the disintegration of our community. But daily we here about calls being put on hold. Officers having to wait to go on a call because they do not have an officer to assist them. There are 6 Cops on the streets during all three shifts. Does anyone believe this is enough?

Wilkes-Barre spent a large sum of money to put cameras up around the city. None of them seem to work. What is the use? The mayor has been called out for shady deals on local properties. He is very dismissive of citizens who question him at City Council meetings. He has called citizens names at these proceedings. The city pays for his alarm system at his home. During his tenure as mayor the city has progressively gone downhill. Taxes are raised, garbage bags cost more, permits cost more, recycling fee and all other city fees have gone up. Yet t hth e city no longer cleans the streets and cannot hire more officers. We also recive money from the Casino, the naming of a local ice rink and parking meters. Where is all of this money going?

If a city is having the amount of trouble Wilkes-Barre is, why are they nit asking for help? Why are the State Police not involved? Why are other local police forces only used on occasion? Why is the DEA or FBI not involved to help with the drug problem? Why are citizens calling about drug deals being made out of a house for 2 years and nothing has been done? Why are arrest records being fudged? Why are people that were busted for drugs on the street? Why are those said people on bail and being busted for murder? These are some of the issues facing Wilkes-Barre. Why are we not getting answers for our questions?

Growing up I could walk all over my neighborhood. Now I don’t let my daughters go anywhere. The tax base is shrinking in our area because people are leaving. Who wants to deal with this? I believe Wilkes-Barre has reached a breaking point. If something is not done soon, we will face a mass exodus. There is no reason this can’t be the city my parents knew. It is time to fix our broken city.