‘Hoops for Homeless’ receives $5K donation

Posted on Dec 25, 2014

by Lisa Backus

NEW BRITAIN — The “Hoops for Homeless” basketball tournament, which raises money for homeless kids, received a shot in the arm for the courts Tuesday when the Petit Family Foundation donated $5,000 to the cause.

“We’re excited to have them involved,” said co-founder Paul Zagorsky. “They are excited to be involved.”

This year’s Hoops for Homeless basketball tournament will be held April 25 on the downtown streets of New Britain. More than 40 teams are expected to play with the proceeds benefiting New Britain schools attendance supervisor Joseph Vaverchak’s “Road To Recovery” program — which provides hygiene supplies, school supplies, and school and casual clothing and other services for homeless children and families.

Hoops for Homeless also provides scholarships to homeless students who have shown exemplary commitment to education by maintaining their grades while living in shelters or other difficult circumstances.

Zagorsky, Vaverchak and Central Connecticut State University professor Jacob Werblow started the basketball tournament three years ago as a way to raise funds for area kids who were struggling with homelessness.

In addition to the three, the group is made up of a collaborative team, including city officials, police, firefighters, CCSU, the Prudence Crandall Center, the Friendship Service Center and the Boys and Girls Club. They raised between $8,000 and $10,000 during last year’s “Hoops for Homeless ” event. The group donated $2,000 in food gift certificates to needy families a few weeks ago.

Named after members of the Petit family who were killed during a violent home invasion, the Petit Family Foundation supports those dealing with chronic illness, domestic violence and other charitable causes.

Area foundations have embraced the cause with the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain providing $10,000 in seed money for the group to purchase hoops which are set up downtown for the event.

The American Savings Foundation has also supported Hoops for Homeless and now the tournament can add the Petit Family Foundation to their list of sponsors. “I think the foundations are seeing the light that the issues school children who are homeless face,” Zagorsky said. “These are kids who are doubled up or living at the Friendship Center or staying with relatives.”

Zagorsky recalled one scholarship winner who would get up at 5 a.m. to take two buses to attend New Britain High School each morning. “Kids should not have to deal with that,” Zagorsky said. “I like to quote CCSU men’s basketball coach Howie Dickenmen who said one homeless child is too many.”

The tournament will draw hundreds to participate and watch dozens of teams play in the three-on-three games.

Those who wish to participate should register before April 1 by calling CCSU REcentral at (860) 832-3733.