All too often we hear more about the negative occurrences in our communities. Often the person or persons at the center of the controversy, are of significant stature. An athlete, coach, or someone that mainstream media has deemed worthy of the attention. We believe first and foremost that the heroes in the lives of our youths are ideally their mothers and fathers. Since this is not always the case, our youth are sometimes forced to substitute these mentors with stars of sport or entertainment.
EmergeNC recently caught up with a true hero, who just happens to be a member of the NBA’s most recently crowned world champion Dallas Mavericks team. I am speaking of none other than Winston-Salem’s favorite son, Josh Howard who has taken out time from a busy schedule, to do what seems to come natural to him. Howard hosted his annual Josh Howard Foundation’s 5th Annual Celebrity weekend at Wake Forest University. The experience included a free youth basketball camp, a celebrity flag football game, and live concert. Yes, Doug E. Fresh even came out to support the cause, as did a number of other celebrity reality television, and radio personalities. Also held was a private National Black Theatre Festival kickoff reception, hosted by Howard and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines.
Josh Howard’s foundation was founded on the premise of being “dedicated to helping to improve the quality of life of economically challenged communities.” Josh’s foundation stretches to other cities including Dallas, and Washington DC. Areas of particular interest that are addressed are assisting in achieving academic success, community outreach, and athletic fitness. Josh states, “I have always known that some day I would give back in some way. There were no professional athletes coming to my home town to give back when I was coming up.” All funds raised go directly to the foundation for fulfillment of its mission.
What makes this event different from others is that Josh actually participates willingly – signing autographs, posing for photos, and answering questions. All with a smile and calm demeanor. He is definitely not cut from a common cloth. It has been said that Josh has never met a stranger. We have seen this first hand covering this event. Someone close to Josh recalls a situation during another of Josh’s camps. As the story goes, the youth participant who happened to be having a difficult time grew frustrated. “I summoned Josh and explained what was going on.” “Not only did Josh talk with this child, but he treated her as if she was important.” “Sometimes an ounce of attention goes a very long way.”
As a testament to what the foundation stands for, The Winston-Salem Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative presented the Josh Howard Foundation with a $5,000 grant for an ongoing program ‘Better Fathers for a Better Tomorrow’ which is meant to strengthen values between fathers and sons. This initiative directly supports the overall mission of the Josh Howard Foundation, and is significant in that it will be ongoing until November of 2011.
It is refreshing to know that even with the fame and accolades, Mr. Howard chooses to fortify the youth of his hometown and other cities with mentorship, tools for achievement, and time for a photo and or conversation. Our hats off to Josh for time well spent with our youth today, to help build a better tomorrow.
Special thank you to the Josh Howard foundation. For information: http://www.joshhowardfoundation.com