Time's Running Out
There are only a few hours left to help out families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gifts made today will be matched.
#GivingTuesdayNow is almost over. Only a few hours left to help our families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gifts made today will be matched up to $50,000 thanks to the generosity of a dedicated group of employees at William Blair and its matching gifts program.
Hoops to Homework Kicks Off
We recently celebrated the tip-off to this year’s Hoops to Homework basketball season with a draft! Featuring music, dancing, a visit from legendary Bulls player Bob Love, and an NBA-style draft, we filled the rosters of four teams that will compete in the Noha Gym every Sunday this winter.
Hoops to Homework is a Mercy Home staple that not only instills the importance of academics in our kids, but also allows them to enjoy playing a sport together.
This year’s draft was emceed by the Vice President of the Academy Patrick Bittorf, who was impressed by the boys’ commitment to this year’s season.
“The commitment of our young men to better themselves and our community through Hoops was evidenced by many of them adjusting their pass to be with us on Saturday morning,” he said. “They will continue to show this commitment by being with us on Sunday afternoons for the regular season through March. I am humbled by their investment in themselves and the program.”
Fr. Scott was also on hand to address the boys. After recognizing the coworkers and other supporters who came to the draft, he had all the boys stand and assured them how much everyone in the room cared about them. “We’re here because we love you,” he told them.
Two of our young men presented flowers to Leslie Forman, Vice President of Chicago Bulls Charities, to show the Home’s appreciation for all the Bulls organization does throughout the year. Forman also had words of encouragement for our young men. She told them that it’s not about where they were today that counts, but where they are going.
Next up to the mic was TransUnion rep Bob Skwarek. Mr. Skwarek echoed Fr. Scott’s words, letting the boys know how much everyone at TransUnion cared about them and was eager to see them succeed. “We want you to know we believe in you,” he said.
Jonathan Dues, the founder and CEO of HoopsLink, also expressed support the benefits Hoops to Homework provides both on and beyond the basketball. “We want you to be better young men, but if you learn a thing or two about basketball along the way, that’s a positive,” he said.
Last with words of wisdom was Bulls play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky, who told the boys that the tournament was about relationships, and nurturing the skills and drive to succeed in the academic and personal arenas, as well as the athletic one.
Following the speakers, the draft portion of the morning began. The Bulls made sure the atmosphere was electric by providing music from their own DJ, as well as entertainment from their cheer squad, the Incredibulls.
Sitting at four tables, all of our coaches spent time conferring before hyping each pick with jaw-dropping statistics about each young man.
As each participant was called up—to cheers and applause—they posed for photos with their team’s jersey alongside their coach and Bob Love. Love’s own #10 Bulls jersey flies high above the court at the United Center, since he became the second player in franchise history to have his jersey retired.
Bittorf expressed his appreciation for the coaches, who are made up of Mercy Home coworkers, external volunteers, and HoopsLink participants.
The coaches are the heroes of the program and we owe its success to their ongoing service,” he said.
The excitement even continued into Sunday, when the boys put on their jerseys for the first time!
“We had great momentum in community building and skill development from the weekend that will fuel us through the entirety of the Hoops to Homework season,” Patrick said.
We are thankful to all our young men, coworkers, and coaches for kicking off this season successfully! We would also like to thank the Chicago Bulls, TransUnion, and HoopsLink for their ongoing support of Hoops to Homework.