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Friday, November 30, 2012 @ 10:01pm

Nine Years Ago Today...

November 30, 2004. We were expecting a pretty busy next day, watching our then 5th grader, go out and attempt to shoot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would lose a parent to AIDS during his school day. But honestly, what we didn't expect, is everything that happened next.  You see, we thought Hoops of Hope was just a one day event. I honestly thought Austin would make it through probably half, or maybe a few more shots, and then we'd head out to grab a burger and congratulate him on his success. 

Well, we never did grab that burger. Instead, there were such bigger plans for Hoops of Hope. Plans that we could've never imagined. Plans that would take our family to the corners of the world. Plans that could only be designed by a God who dreams so much bigger than we do. And, here we are...nine years later...still wondering what happened. Still in awe that Hoops of Hope has spread to 27 countries and has involved more than 40,000 young people. Still in awe that a small boys' dream of raising a few thousand dollars has raised enough to help build the only high school in the Kalomo district in southern Zambia. Still in awe that there are dorms in Kenya, a school being built in India, a community center in Malawi, hope centers in Swaziland, and the list goes on. Still in awe that, per the Minister of Education, an entire generation of Zambian Children have been saved because of medical clinics Hoops of Hope funded, now in the region.

And then again, I guess that's the beauty of Hoops of Hope. There never was a "master plan". We've never spent money on marketing. Never tried to create an organization [in fact, we run Hoops of Hope with 1.5 employees].  Never really promoted Hoops of Hope. It happened simply because people cared. It happened because people saw a need, saw an easy and fun way to help, and got involved. And to all of you who have participated in an event, volunteered or donated over the past nine years, thank you. You are the heros. I've met so many of the children you've helped and they are so incredibly thankful. I hope one day, you'll get to meet them too.

As we embark on another World AIDS Day, the needs are as great as ever. We found a small village in remote southern Zambia that has no medical facilities. Literally, if you're ill, you must find a way in a world without transportation, to get approximately 50 miles to the nearest facility. We have a goal in 2013 to build a new and modern medical facility for this village.

In addition to the medical facility, we are currently feeding 1,500 children in Malawi a nutritious meal every day. And, to celebrate our 10th year, we are hoping to provide 10,000 students in Title I schools here in the US with school supplies.  

But we cannot do it without you and I'm hoping you'll join us to celebrate 10 years of changing the game. Check out our new website which was graciously donated in part by Woodward & Zwolinski.  You'll find all the information you'll need to get involved.

Thanks again for everyone who has had a part in Hoops of Hope.  Tomorrow, on World AIDS Day, will you take a moment to remember these children? In fact, head out and shoot a few hoops. I think I will.

Dan 




Thursday, October 4, 2012 @ 10:50am

Malawi Update


Here are a few photos showing the progress on the community center Hoops of Hope funded in Mtema, Malawi.  Thank you again for all of your help and support of Hoops of Hope. 

Monday, September 10, 2012 @ 6:56pm

Community Center in Mtema

In 2012, we set out on a goal to feed 550 children, drill 4 new deep boreholes and to build a community center in Mtema, Malawi. Here are few pictures of the community center which is now fully funded and under construction. The community center will be a storehouse for the food, distribution center for the food, an education building and a community meeting center. It is the first of it's kind in Mtema which is a group of small villages about 20 miles north of Lilongwe. Thank you so much for your continued support of Hoops of Hope. You are making a huge difference in the lives of children!

Hoops of Hope Team!

 This picture shows the community bringing water to the construction site to be used to mix mortar.

 Here is the community mixing the mortar.

 Another Photo of ladies bringing water to the construction site. These canisters of water can weigh up to 40 pounds.
 Here is the community center under construction

Monday, August 6, 2012 @ 8:10pm

Thanks Young Life!

Just a quick note of thanks to Young Life and their amazing leaders!  Kristen, thank you especially for your blog on Live to Give and for being willing to give it out to Young Life leaders.  So thankful for you and all you do!  Please check out Kristen's blog below for a review of the book.

http://www.younglifeleaders.org/2012/07/resources-for-campaigners-live-to-give.html

Sunday, August 5, 2012 @ 4:07pm

Mtema Feeding Program


Mtema
My name is Wakondiye and I am 40 years old and married to the Village Headman Mtema. I have been going to the center since 2010 learning with the women and widows and have learned bead making and soap making, but my greatest love is for the Bible. When the first center in Mtema was opened, I did what most village headman?s wives? would never do. I began helping to prepare the porridge for the children.

Before I was ignorant to the love of God, but after being taught by the ministry I now know that I am His child and I have been given such a love for children by God. I come to class and sing and play with them. I also make sure to leave them with an inheritance of folk tales.

I hope to encourage teachers and caregivers in their work and encourage women to ensure their children come and get a healthy meal each day, as well as participate in development in the community. During the community meetings I try to makes sure I speak to the local chiefs so that they will involve their wives in development because many of the chiefs? wives are never in the forefront as they are not looked at contributors to progress in their culture.

Wakondiye leads her community by ownership and participation and by example and because of people like her in during the first 6 months of 2012 over 500 children and pregnant mothers have been enjoying a nutritious meal 5 times a week. The feeding program operates out of two locations ? one in a very small church building with dirt floors and the other one literally under trees and tobacco sheds.  The community is looking forward to the new community center which will begin construction soon.

One of the other benefits of the OVC Feeding Program is that youth in the community are able to contribute.  This year they made 20 straw mats for the children to sit on while they ate and listened to Bible stories.  This gave the youth an opportunity to make some money to help support their families.  In addition, 6 teachers and 12 caregivers received incentives each month for teaching the children Bible stories and good health and hygiene practices.

Sunday, July 29, 2012 @ 6:10am

New Boreholes Open in Malawi!


Mtema borehole:  Mtema is composed of 56 villages.  About 22,000 people live in this community and are subsistence farmers.  There are over 550 orphans and vulnerable children. Prior to this borehole the community fetched their water from a nearby river which is unsafe for drinking, consequently they opened themselves up to many waterborne diseases.  When they pumped their borehole for the first time, the people were amazed and celebrated in song, laughing and dancing.  The hope in the eyes of the women and children, the possibilities of better health, and sanitation was evident as they put their hands in the cool refreshing water for the first time.  It was clear to this humble community that God had provided His living water to them.


 

Mtema Nkhalapadzuwa borehole: Similar to Mtema, this community?s children were most amazed as the water began to flow.  After generations of spending hours to get water from a river close by it didn?t seem possible that water could flow so easily from this faucet in the center of their community.  With trepidation, they put their hands under the water and smiled. Like the majority of people living in Mtema, this village is home primarily to subsistance farmers.  Because of this borehole, the women will be able to spend more time learning new skills to earn wages for their families.  The children will have more time to learn and become educated, and they will be able to easily bring water to their crops and small gardens so they can sustain feeding their families through the year.  Water is life; a new life, full of possibilities for a bright future.


Sunday, July 8, 2012 @ 3:59pm

Thomas Nelson Author Blog


Featured Authors

Nice blog from the Thomas Nelson website.  Thanks...

Austin Gutwein

Austin Gutwein was just 9 years old when watched a video that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS. After watching the video, he realized these kids weren?t any different from him except they were suffering. Austin felt called to do something to help them. He took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws. On World AIDS Day, 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Friends and family sponsored Austin and he was able to raise almost $3,000. That year, the money was used to provide hope to 8 orphan children.
Over the past eight years, Austin?s effort has turned into the largest free throw marathon in the world with an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating in Hoops of Hope. Together, Hoops of Hope participants have raised more than $2.5 million. The efforts have led to the construction of the only high school in a rural region in Southern Zambia, four dormitories, two medical clinics, a computer laboratory, multiple water projects as well as the funding of a dormitory at an orphanage in Kenya and a school in India.
Austin has been featured on the 700 Club, Hour of Power, NBC Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, CBS NCAA Pregame Show, Time Magazine, Christianity Today and many others.  He has had the opportunity to share his story of hope to more than 500,000 people on four continents.
In 2009, Austin was selected as one of the Top 10 Most Caring Americans by the Caring Institute in Washington, DC.  That same year, Thomas Nelson released his first book, "Take Your Best Shot." Austin?s second book, "Live to Give," is scheduled to be released in August 2012.
In February 2012, Austin was recognized as one of ESPN?s 18 under 18, and he graduated from high school. He currently co-chairs Arizona Governor Jan Brewer?s Youth Commission and will be attending Anderson University in the fall.
Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at www.AustinGutwein.com andwww.HoopsOfHope.org.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 @ 11:26am

Intel Team Visits Computer Lab!


IESC Zambia: classmate PCs increase enrollment at Jonathan Sims

The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for a select group of Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Andris Roze, a product analyst at Intel, recaps his team?s first week working with Hoops of Hope and World Vision in Zambia.

JSims students using Intel classmate PCs
A red dust cloud trails our Land Cruiser as we bounce along this dirt road in rural Zambia leading to Jonathan Sims Chikanta High School. Corn and cotton fields line the road, but no signs can be found. If you aren?t careful, you?ll drive all the way to Zimbabwe.
Luckily for us our journey has been expertly coordinated by Alf and his World Vision Zambia colleagues. World Vision supports Jonathan Sims, a school that changed dramatically in May 2011 when Hoops of Hope provided funding for a solar-powered computer lab with 20 Intel classmate PCs. The first IESC team set up the lab and provided initial training, and this year?s team returned to build on the foundation of PC literacy skills and help the school?s teachers integrate technology into their curriculum.

The team: Jason, Naveen, Merciless (deputy headmaster), Sisley, Mr. Kanjambo (headmaster), Andris, Cristina, Wendy
We hit the ground running, and in our first week we worked with teachers using Open Office Calc, Impress, and other software to teach PC literacy classes to more than 300 students. We demonstrated resources like Khan Academyand the Intel Learning Series classroom management software as well as the eGranary (a hard drive containing Wikipedia and 14 million educational resources). We even helped the deputy headmaster create the school?s first student ID cards.
We also demonstrated WeDo Robotics kits donated by the LEGO Foundation, showing the teachers how to create a program that lifts a robot man using a LEGO crane. The headmaster and teachers were excited about helping the students organize a robotics competition, as they were looking for an engaging, hands-on way of teaching engineering concepts.

Teachers using LEGO WeDo Robotics kits
After a year of having classmate PCs at the school, change is already palpable. Charles, the World Vision regional coordinator, noted that "enrollment is up this year because word is spreading that Jonathan Sims has a computer lab." This is a significant leap since high school students in Zambia rarely have a chance to interact with computers. In fact, we were told that even university students often don?t get to use computers until their final year of studies.
During the second week, our team would travel to Makonkoto Basic School, but not before enjoying a rousing farewell assembly organized by the school?s headmaster, Mr. Kanjambo. Add a few speeches, a photo session with students, a final lunch with teachers, a few more speeches, and we were starting to feel like Justin Bieber. But it was time to get back out onto that dirt road, tired, but satisfied with what we accomplished.

After long day of training, enjoying a soccer game at dusk

Saturday, June 9, 2012 @ 9:27pm

Live to Give Video

I hope you enjoy this super creative video launching a new book called Live to Give.




My prayer is that our generation would Live to Give - Austin

Monday, April 23, 2012 @ 5:52pm

Update on Computer Lab!


Children at World Vision School Kiss Computer Illiteracy Goodbye

(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
By Collins Kaumba

PhinaPhina Lukomba is smiling in disbelief.

In her rural school, a computer lab has just been officially opened.

"I never thought that one day I would have a chance to see, touch, learn and use a computer especially in a place like this one," says Phina, a 21-year-old who is studying in Grade 12. "All I know is that computers are for those who live in urban areas, especially the working class."

World Vision Zambia, in partnership with Intel and Hoops of Hope of the United States, provided a computer lab made from a 40 foot shipping container, complete with solar power and 20 computers ? each installed with a data library at the Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School in a very rural area of Zambia?s Southern Province.

"I never thought would ever come as a reality. I will make sure that I utilise the computers to advance my education," Phina says.

Phina is one of 309 students attending this secondary school.

Clement Chipokolo, World Vision Zambia?s Southern Regional Operations Manager, says the people who live in this community where World Vision?s Twachiyanda Area Development Programme
(ADP) operates are witnessing history. There are no other computer labs in any Kalomo District schools.

"When I was growing up and finished my school, I never had access to computers but here we are, in the midst of nowhere, witnessing the handover of computers," he says.

Clement adds the computer technology will forever change the destiny of the pupils and entire community.

student-solar-powered-roomBernd Nordhausen, Intel World Ahead Program?s Senior Solutions Architect, says the installation of the computers at the school was the dream of their education service programme, which they hope to fulfill effectively by partnering with organisations such as World Vision.

"The computers we have installed use low power voltage, therefore solar power works well for them in places where there is no electricity," Bernd explains.

The 17-year-old Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, was a driving force behind building the school which opened in 2008.

The school is named after Jonathan Sim, a former World Vision USA employee, who had a dream for the children of Twachiyanda community. While Jonathan passed away, the school was built thanks to the fundraising of Austin.

solar-powered-lab"My wish is that these computers will help you to excel in your education and bring hope to you all and your families. I encourage you to use the computers very well," Austin says.
The computer lab is already providing children with new skills.

"I am able to type and play games. Also I have learnt how to browse through and search for information stored on to the computers. However, we are still learning how to do several other things," she says smiling.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 @ 11:05am

New Book - Pre order Available

The new book, Live to Give, by Austin Gutwein is now available for pre-order at Amazon.  I'm excited to share the message in this book with you and I hope it leaves you inspired.  - Austin


Tuesday, March 20, 2012 @ 5:52pm

Love this new video our friend Will Irwin did on our most recent trip to Zambia.

Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 5:34pm

ESPN 18 Under 18


18 Under 18: Austin Gutwein

Senior raised more than $2.5 million for African orphans through his charity

Updated: February 29, 2012, 1:09 AM ET
By Ryan Canner-O'Mealy | ESPNHS Magazine
Austin GutweinCourtesy of Hoops for HopeAustin Gutwein of Gilbert Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.) started Hoops for Hope, a charity that's raised more than $2.5 million for those affected by AIDS in Africa.
ESPNHS honors 18 male teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about them.
When he was 9, Austin Gutwein saw a movie about African children orphaned because of AIDS. It left such an impression that he started Hoops Of Hope, a charity to raise money for those affected by AIDS in Africa.
He started by shooting 2,057 free throws -- representing the average number of children who became orphaned each day -- and raised $3,000 that first year. "That very first year it was just me," says Gutwein, who now plays soccer at Gilbert Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.). "I didn't really think much toward the future."
Seven years later, the 17-year-old senior's charity has gone global and raised more than $2.5 million. More than 40,000 people in 27 countries have participated. Gutwein has traveled all over the world as a result, visiting Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Qatar, China, Luxembourg and many more countries. Through it all, one lesson has stayed with him.
"This generation can step up and really change the world," he says. "And you don't have to wait to be an adult to do it." For more information on Hoops Of Hope, visit Gutwein's website,hoopsofhope.org.

Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 8:36pm

Story of Mateni

Ever wonder if there is a story behind what happens when you participate in a Hoops of Hope event and raise $40 to feed a child for a year in Malawi?  Well, there are many, many, thousands of stories.  Here is one...

Mateni is a 12 year old boy living with his sister, Alinafe in Malawi. Mateni was recently tested and found out that he is HIV positive. He has to face this new challenge in his life without parents to support him - it is just he and his sister.

After both of their parents died, Alinafe married a young man, though she was only 14. When she became  pregnant, her husband left her and their child behind. So now, Mateni, Alinafe and her baby have to fend for themselves.

When the feeding center opened in their community in early 2011, it gave hope to Mateni and Alinafe. Both of them are now receiving a meal everyday at the center - and Alinafe's baby is being fed as well.

Now Mateni and Alinafe have hope. Mateni has hope because even though he is HIV positive, he is able to receive treatment. He also has hope because he knows that he will have at least one meal everyday at the feeding center. Because he has enough to eat, he is doing much better in school, and now has the hope that he can finish his education.

Thank you so much for participating in Hoops of Hope. In 2012, we'll be feeding 550 children just like Mateni and Alinafe. But, we have word from the field that there are another 950 children that need food in the same village. January - March are the hardest months as the harvest is not yet ready. Malawi is the third poorest country in the world.

Sunday, December 25, 2011 @ 1:57pm

2011 End of Year Update!

First of all, Thank You to everyone who participated, hosted or donated to a Hoops of Hope event in 2011. Because of you, children around the world now have hope for a future. Several exciting things happened in 2011 and we've updated them below:

Construction on a teacher house
1. Construction on the much needed teachers houses at the High School have started. In 2010, Hoops of Hope participants raised $119K to help build 4 teacher houses. These houses are expected to open in mid 2012 and will house 14 teachers at the school. Right now, one of the classrooms in being used for teacher houses as well as part of a dormitory.







Students Learning
2. This year, we were able to fully fund, build and deliver a solar computer lab to the school in Twachiyanda. This lab is the only one of its kind in Zambia. It is fully solar powered and contains 22 classmate PCs, 2 teacher PCs, a projector and an e-granary box which houses more than 30,000 reference volumes! We were able to visit the computer lab in May 2011 and were able to share the excitement with students as they learned on a computer for the first time. Intel sent a team to help install the computers and teach all the students. Check the blog from September for stories on how the computers are being used and benefiting the entire community.
Intel Teachers
Computer Lab


Water from the Borehole at the School
3. At the school, we were also able to fund a solar water system that included not only a deep borehole, but solar power to pump the water up a hill to a 60,000 liter holding tank. The water then runs from the tank to... flushing toilets and showers for the students! Imagine this - four years ago, there was no school in a 70 mile region, and now, it is one of the most premier schools in all of Zambia complete with a computer lab, dormitories and flushing toilets and showers! A student asked us when we were there what it would be like to take a shower :)




Austin at the new Borehole
4. In the community, we were able to fund the construction of two deep boreholes as a result of a church doing Hoops of Hope in Ohio. The wells will provide fresh water for 40 villages.

The Community












5. We were able to help build a dormitory for 30 boys at the Huruma Children's Home in Kenya. Right now, there are 150 children sleeping in a 2000 sq. foot house. The dorm is currently under construction and will open in 2012.

Children Eating in Malawi
6. Finally, were were able to fund the feeding of 550 children in Malawi for the entire year of 2012! For $40 a year, a child can eat a nutritious meal once a day which will sustain their growth needs. Many children in the region where we are working [Mtema], used to eat only a few times a week. Now, because of your help, 550 will eat everyday for the entire year. What a blessing.


Fortified Meal for Children in Malawi






















It's been an amazing year and we are so thankful to you for your partnership. Once again, 100% of our administrative costs were covered in 2011 which means that every penny you raised went directly to these projects. And, great news, we're funded for 2012! So, if you're thinking about doing a Hoops of Hope event in 2012, 100% of everything you raise will go directly to help children. No overhead will be taken out of what you raise.  Watch for our 2012 projects released next week!

Blessings and Merry Christmas to you,
Hoops of Hope Team

Saturday, November 19, 2011

SSUNS 2011

 

SSUNS Liveblog: Change One Person’s Life and It Will Change Yours

by KFC on NOVEMBER 11, 2011 · 0 COMMENTS

Hoops of Hope

The theme for the 2011 Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium (SSUNS) is “We Ignite” and the conference featured a 17-year old keynote speaker with an amazing story that inspired delegates to ignite the passion within them. Austin Gutwein founded Hoops of Hope when he was just nine years old and has since raised over $2.2 million for orphaned children in Africa. It all started with a video that he saw many years ago and he now got to share his own video to encourage the delegates at SSUNS to start changing the world by changing one person’s life — and to have your own life be changed in the process.

Austin’s two main lessons are:

  1. When you help change someone else’s life, it will change yours
  2. You don’t need to change the world; just change the world for one

Here are video and photo highlights from Opening Ceremonies:

 

 

Secretary-General Deep Seal hopes to ignite students' passions at SSUNS

SSUNS Secretariat pose with Hoops of Hope founder Austin Gutwein

Good luck to all the delegates this weekend! We hope the conference will be a wonderful educational experience for all!


Friday, September 16, 2011 @ 4:12pm

Computer Lab Update


Here are a few quotes from students and teachers at the Johnathan Sim School

"With the coming of computers, doing assignments has become much easy as we can research using the computers, as opposed to what used to happen in the past where we could go to the school leavers for help. We are privileged to have this technology"
Monde Grade 12

"Life has been made easy because if I don?t understand I can easily browse through the e-Granary and get more understanding of the topic"
- Mwiinga Grade 10

"Since we do not have a library, I depended on the notes given in class but with the coming of the computers, home works, assignments, projects are easy to do now. Thanks to Hoops of Hope".- Kasonde Grade 12


"Standard of learning has improved. I have improved Skills like typing and hence even as I Complete my School it will be easy for me to get a job since computer literacy is one of the requirements"- Malasha Grade 12

"My performance has improved due to these computers. The educational material on these computers supplements to classroom learning activities"
- Mainza Grade 12

"It?s a great thing which has happened to this community. We are thankful to the Hoops of Hope, Intel group and World Vision for this wonderful gesture. Our children are now part of the ICT global community. Since its inception, pupils have acquired computer basic skills which have made both teaching and learning much easy. As teachers, the computers have helped us in teaching, strategic planning, assessments, facilitation and monitoring and evaluation of various school projects. "
Simwanza (Teacher)

Thursday, August 18, 2011 @ 9:02am

Project in Malawi

Our next project takes us across the border from Zambia into the beautiful country of Malawi. We'll be working in a small village called Mtema, which is about 20 miles northeast of the capital city of Lilongwe. The 22,000 people who live in Mtema are primarily subsistence farmers growing maize (corn).

As a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there are at least 750 orphans and vulnerable children in the community. Our local partner on this project, Somebody Cares, has identified at least 8 child-headed households in the main village in Mtema. Most of the orphan children are cared for by grandmothers.

Literacy is very low and there is only one primary school located about 3 miles from the main village. The majority of the girls in this community get married between the ages of 11 and 15. Very few girls ever get the chance to go to school.

Our goal is to help anyway we can. In working with our on-ground partner, Somebody Cares, we will be raising funds from our Hoops of Hope events to do the following:

1. Feed the 750 orphan children one nutritious meal every day for the next year. For every $40 you raise at your Hoops of Hope event, you'll feed one child for a year!

2. Build a community center to be used for food storage, preparation, education, etc. The cost of the community center is $30,000.

3. Dig 4 boreholes to provide fresh water for the community. Access to safe drinking water is a huge challenge for Mtema. In the primary village people have NO access to safe drinking water. They depend on the river water for drinking. This is the same river that animals use, and that is used to bathe, wash themselves and their clothes. As a result, the people of Mtema suffer from a number of waterborne diseases. Total cost is $10,000 per deep borehole.

As always, EVERY PENNY you raise from your Hoops of Hope event will go to these projects. We have not and will not take money from your event for Hoops of Hope overhead. We appreciate your partnership as we strive to make a difference for these children.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 @ 3:41pm

IESC Zambia: Week One

"Education is the key to success, education is the key to success," chanted Hazel, the soft spoken but very determined 12th-grade head student during a student performance at the inauguration of the computer lab at Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School.

The chant made us reflect on what lay ahead of us after a three-day journey that took us from the US and Singapore to this remote part of southern Zambia. We, the team of Intel volunteers consisting of John Parks (SSG), MJ Helgerson (SMG), Kandi Collier (TMG), Tim Lohman (FES), and Bernd Nordhausen (SMG) were at the start of a two-week assignment of the Intel Education Service Corps program to work with World Vision, Zambia to set up a new computer lab with Intel-powered classmate PCs and to train teachers and students.

Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School is located in a remote area of the Kalomo District in southern Zambia. About 2 hours by car from the nearest town of Choma over mainly unpaved dusty roads, cut off at times during the rainy season, this high school was funded through the amazing efforts of Austin Gutwein, the son of Intel employee Dan Gutwein (ECG). Austin founded Hoops of Hope, a US-based fund raising organization, at the tender age of 9 in 2004. Over the years, the efforts of this teenager have raised over 2.5 million dollars which have been used to fund, among other efforts, this school in Zambia and the new computer lab.

Building a computer lab at this only high school within a 50-mile radius presented unique challenges: rudimentary buildings, no mobile phone coverage, and, most critical, no access to electricity. Yet, through the ingenuity of World Vision Zambia and the fund-raising efforts of Hoops of Hope, we were now watching Austin cut the ribbon of the brightly orange painted former shipping container that now holds part of the key to success for the students of Jonathan Sim-Chikanta High School.

Austin?s father had approached Bernd a year ago to help design a fully solar-powered computer lab. With solar power, every watt of energy consumption saved results in hundreds of dollars in savings in solar equipment cost. Thus, we chose every piece of equipment in this lab carefully to consume the least amount of energy while providing maximum educational benefits.

Starting with the Intel-powered classmate PCs and the ULV (ultra low voltage) teacher laptops, we included a pico-projector and wireless access points that can run on the 12 volt DC (direct current) power that solar deployments produce. We installed energy efficient DC ceiling fans to provide cooling during the hot summer days, and energy saving lights to offer an opportunity to use the lab at night.

As there is no mobile phone coverage, Internet connection was not feasible (at least not for the moment), so we included the eGranary, an off-line digital library containing over 30,000 documents including Wikipedia and the Khan Academy educational videos.

These provide the students the look and feel of the internet without actual internet connectivity. We also were able to include the localized version of skoool (skoool.co.zm), to provide science and math content catered specifically towards the Zambian curriculum.

After the inauguration, our trainers MJ and Kandi started to train students and teachers, while Tim and I concentrated on configuring the PCs, and training the administrators to sustain the computer lab after we leave. JP (John Parks) held informal lessons outside of the lab and took the head teacher, Luke, under his wings to train him away from the watchful eyes of the students.



Sunday, April 3, 2011 @ 8:01pm

Great Article from Vermont!

Dozens Of Students Shoot Hoops Of Hope

Basketball Event Raises Money For African Orphans With HIV/AIDS

POSTED: 12:49 pm EDT April 2, 2011
UPDATED: 4:33 pm EDT April 2, 2011

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Comments (0)



WILLISTON, Vt. -- Close to 60 middle and high school students from across the Champlain Valley shot thousands of free throws to support Hoops Of Hope, a non-profit organization that helps orphans in Africa dealing with HIV/AIDS.
Eighth grader Sammi Harvey wasn't just shooting to hone her skills, she was excited to give back to charity.
"It means a lot that I can do what I love to do -- play basketball and help out for this foundation," Harvey said.
The shooting session took place at the Allen Brook School in Williston and Milton Elementary School. Hoops Of Hope was started by a 10-year-old, Austin Gutwein from Arizona in 2004. Athletes raise donations from family members and neighbors and then play basketball to support the needs of children throughout Africa.
"Part of the motto is do something bigger than yourself," organizer Joel Desautels said. "And we can all give a little bit back."
From years past, the money has gone to building everything from a high school to medical labs in Africa.
"I've always wanted to go and do missionary work, but I know that I'm too young and I can't do that. So just this way i'm also doing that and being a part of it," Rice Memorial freshman Gemma Cirignanno said.
If you would like to support this cause, you can go to www.hoopsofhope.org or make a donation through pt360coop.com.
Copyright 2011 by WPTZ.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Interview from Crystal Cathedral

Friday, March 18, 2011 @ 11:27pm

Interview at Crystal Cathedral

Saturday, January 15, 2011 @ 12:35pm

Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the retailer survey. Here are some of the highlights:

92% of shoppers are influenced to shop in a store that is involved in charitable giving.

Only 22% of people under 35 know if their favorite store is involved in charitable giving.

56% of respondents will purchase a lesser quality good if it is involved in charitable giving.

78% of respondents are aware of TOMS Shoes. 4 years ago, TOMS did not exist yet they were recently rated as the #6 most innovative retail company per Fast Company.

34% of respondents had purchased a pair of TOMS Shoes. Of these 34%, 56% had purchased two or more pairs.

There is a different way to reach our generation than there is to reach the generation of our parents. We want to be associated with companies doing good.

austin

Monday, January 3, 2011 @ 11:48am

Swimming for Clean Water

Check out this recent video of Erick Skaff who swam 10 miles to represent and raise money for clean water projects. Erick said he came up with the idea after reading "Take Your Best Shot". We're proud of you Erick! Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many.

Monday, December 27, 2010 @ 1:33pm

End of Year Letter

Dear Friends of Hoops of Hope,

As another year comes to a close, we?re, once again, amazed by the amount of compassion you?ve shown to the "least of these". I often smile when I think about the thousands of volunteers who helped to pull off more than 100 Hoops of Hope events this year in 12 countries. I?m humbled when I think of the tens of thousands of donors that helped us fund so many projects. And, I?m amazed by the tens of thousands of participants who shot countless free throws to represent children who have lost their parents. I count serving on the board at Hoops of Hope one of the greatest privileges I could ever imagine.

This past June, we traveled with a team of 17 to southern Zambia to witness the opening of four new dormitories at the school, as well as a clinic and testing facility nearby. There are no words to express the joy of the students sleeping in a dorm for the first time, or the patients receiving treatment that will save their life. All I can say is "thank you" for being a part of Hoops of Hope.

In 2010, your efforts were able to partially fund a dormitory at a the Huruma Children?s Home in Kenya; fully fund two additional teacher houses and a computer lab at the school in Zambia, as well fully fund two deep water wells. In March of this year, we held an auction which generated enough administrative funding to fully fund all administrative costs through the end of 2011. Once again, this means that every penny raised from the Hoops of Hope events around the world will go directly to children.

I?m looking forward to 2011 and working with you again to make a difference in the lives of children who have been orphaned by AIDS. Why? Because there are so many things left to do. The life expectancy in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa is still less than 40 years old. There are still so many who do not have access to clean water, food, healthcare and an education. We?ll continue to help as long as we can and hope you?ll join us again in 2011.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Dan
Board of Directors [Volunteer]

Thursday, December 2, 2010 @ 10:20am

World AIDS Day 2010


As most of you may already know, yesterday was World AIDS Day, a date that is very near to the heart of the Hoops of Hope team, participants, hosts, volunteers, donors, and partners. Because the UN estimates that every 14 seconds a child loses a parent to HIV/AIDS, we work toward helping in an area of our world most devastatingly affected by the AIDS pandemic. Donations received at events all around the globe go toward helping ease the pain of living in such an area. Orphans are getting much needed assistance and education, and even more exciting, some children now even get to have their parents around longer because of the medication they now receive to treat their disease!

This past June I had a chance to travel to Zambia with the rest of the Hoops of Hope team. While there, we visited a High School and a medical clinic, both of which were paid for with Hoops of Hope donations. I could tell you story after story of how lives have been changed, and how the people in those areas have benefited from individuals who set aside time and put forth the effort to care for them by shooting some free throws.

There?s one story in particular that I'd like to share with you in light of World AIDS Day. It's about a 10 year old boy named Orlando. I got to visit him in his home where he lives with his grandma and 3 brothers because his parents both died from HIV/AIDS. Orlando also has AIDS. He told me that not long ago he thought he would die. He couldn't get out of bed from being so sick, and his grandma confirmed with tears in her eyes that they had given up hope. Then the clinic that Hoops of Hope funds built opened, and it was near enough to his home for him to get to. There he received medication and care that has allowed him to live a "regular" life. You would hardly know by looking at him that he's sick. He goes to school, helps around the house, and even plays soccer with his friends! When he looked me in the eyes and said "Thank you for giving me my life" I told him it wasn't me, but many people around the globe who care. It was hard to leave Orlando that day, but as I left I promised him that I would tell his story and would be sure to thank his true heroes for him. That's probably you if you are reading this? anyone who has ever hosted, participated in, given to, volunteered for, prayed for, or supported a Hoops of Hope event in any way.

To those of you hosting events this month in recognition of World AIDS Day, thank you. You are making a huge impact in the lives of people you may never have an opportunity to meet, but that are thankful to YOU for giving them life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010 @ 4:49pm

Cool Story from a Hoops of Hope event

Remember, it doesn't matter how big your event. It only matters that you do something. The following is from a girl who did Hoops of Hope...

Alrighty! The Hoops of Hope event went well Saturday, no major catastrophes or anything of the sort, but the amount of people who showed up wasn't the biggest turn out. There was maybe an average of 3-5 people that weren't volunteers at the event, but it still went well. I'm so glad that God let me be a part of this ministry! I know that this fundraiser helps out AIDS orphans and all, which is great! But what I find greater is how God used this event to draw me closer to Him. I look back and see how he used everything that happened, every hardship, every hurdle, to lean on Him and trust in what He's doing.

Toward the last week of Hoops of Hope before the event, I was starting to get tired. But God kept telling me, "don't give up; keep going". so I did as He said. It took a lot of work, but because I pushed hard to reach our goal we not only reached the goal of $1,000, but we went past it by a few hundred dollars. When I was getting tired I felt like it was the 4th and last period of the game. If I started backing down, we would of lost. But I chose to pursue and conquer, and God helped me throughout the entire way! Hoops of Hope has not just richly blessed those kids in Zambia, He's richly blessed me by letting me along for the ride!


Alyssa

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 @ 1:15pm

Chloe and Courtney Skiles raise $1000 for kids

PHOTO BY THOMAS METTHE, THOMAS METTHE/REPORTER-NEWS

Chloe Skiles, 9 (left), and her sister, Courtney, 7, shoot baskets Saturday during the Hoops of Hope fundraiser benefiting AIDS orphans in Zambia.
"Take Your Best Shot" is the title of the book that inspired Alyssa Presley to do just that.

Alyssa, 16, decided to take her best shot at organizing an event and rounding up sponsors to benefit children in Zambia who are suffering from AIDS.

The result of Alyssa?s six-month effort was visible Saturday when youngsters gathered at First Baptist Church?s Family Life Center to shoot hoops from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The shoot-a-thon raised more than $1,000 to benefit Hoops of Hope, an organization built on the determination of a 9-year-old boy in Mesa, Ariz., to help children in Africa.

The book, "Take Your Best Shot," by Todd Hilliard, tells the story of Austin Gutwein?s determination to make a difference in the world. Six years ago, when Austin was 9, he came up with the shoot-a-thon idea, similar to a walk-a-thon, as a way to raise money.

Hoops of Hope now bills itself as "the largest free throw shoot-a-thon in the world."

Alyssa, who is home-schooled by her parents, Ted and Lisa Presley, loves basketball and decided that she could join Austin?s efforts after reading the book.

"I had some hard times planning, but I definitely was blessed," Alyssa said.

She started in May by locating a gym and picking a date for the event. That was followed by rounding up sponsors who agreed to donate money to children who would shoot free throws all day. Other sponsors donated coupons as prizes for contests during the day.

Before Saturday arrived, Alyssa already had raised more than $1,000 to send to Hoops of Hope. She was pleased enough with her first effort that she said she?ll try again next year.

And Alyssa got some benefit from the shoot-a-thon herself. Her home-school team plays area high school teams during basketball season. Alyssa loves to play defense and admits she?s not as good on offense.

So Saturday?s event gave her the opportunity to do a good deed and get in a little practice at the same time. "I?m not that good at free throws," she said. "That?s why I?m working on it."

To learn more about Hoops of Hope, go to www.hoopsofhope.org.

© 2010 Abilene Reporter-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010 @ 9:57am

Great Day in Cleveland

Yesterday was an amazing day in Cleveland Ohio. Three simultaneous Hoops of Hope events happened and raised over $16,000 to be used to dig wells in Twachiyanda, Zambia. Here's the story....

 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @ 11:00am


The auditorium was filled with joyful shouts of all generations alike as they praised God and the atmosphere was electric, music from Ryan Axtell and the Stellar Kart band ringing through the air! August 31st, was amazing! The uplifting worship music from Ryan and the rock music from the Stellar Kart band resulted to a beautiful blend! Austin gave a superb testimony of what is going on in Africa and the Stellar Kart echoed Austin?s words because their lead singer, Adam, went for an African tour with Hoops of Hope back in June of this year. The band is made up of Adam B. Agee- the lead singer, Brian Calcara - bass player, Jordan Bradford Messer ? drummer and Jon Howard-guitarist. They got to know the needs facing the continent and the passion they felt resonated in the music they represented. There were some hilarious spots whereby the band played famous theme songs of their favorite movies in rock and it was awesome! Because of the amazing and generous hearts of all involved in this amazing concert the children at Huruma Children?s Home will have a place to lay their head on every night. The crowd resonated well with the Band and children were sponsored through World Vision. Truly is takes a heart of love and generosity to do what Hoops of hope does. Austin exudes the aura of a servant who is always ready to help others in their most needy situation. Thank you to all of you for making the concert a success!! Thank you to Ryan Axtell, Stellar Kart band, the army of volunteers, World Vision and everybody who supported in kind and prayer!!!

-Caroline

Friday, August 27, 2010 @ 2:11pm

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK!

Hello everybody, my name is Caroline Naisarian Lydiah and I am currently working as an intern at Hoops of Hope. Many are asking where I am from and to answer your question, I am from Kenya a great country in Africa and it is amazing how Hoops of Hope has made a difference in our continent and many people now have hope. I come from a home of a 150 brothers and sisters in Kenya! My mother, Mama Zipporah, started an orphanage, Huruma Children?s Home, when I was only nine years old. I was brought up in the orphanage and we went through a lot of challenges growing up but what kept us close was the love we had for each other as well as the word of God which kept us grounded through the hard times.
Later I finished high school and I volunteered at the orphanage as a teacher as I waited to join college. It was a lot of fun because I did not have a clue about teaching and I ended up learning more from my students. Later I went to college and for a time I worked in a media house but my heart was not content. I went back to the orphanage and volunteered to be the administrator. Honestly, I did not have a clue about administration and everything seemed so hard. Mama Zipporah was very patient with me and she made sure I attended a lot of conferences and these were great learning forums because I got to learn from other people?s experiences and I established strategic networks.
After my first year as the administrator, I was invited to the U.S. by Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler, Arizona, to speak about Huruma. It was my first speaking engagement and I was shaking in my boots but God gave me the courage and I was able to talk about the orphanage and raise awareness about issues facing our country. This led to the beginning of a great relationship between the Church and the orphanage. During my brief stay, I visited ASU and I realized that they had a Masters course in Nonprofit Studies, which I applied for immediately. I came back to Kenya and I embarked on finishing up the application process and looking for funds. God is ever faithful because I was accepted and I got a scholarship to help fund my education. Currently, I am in my last semester in college and I am glad to have learnt so much.
God works in mysterious ways because I knew about Hoops of Hope when I was in Africa, through a media outlet. Never would I have thought that I one day I would intern in such an amazing organization. Personally I came to know about the organization through a meeting Mama Zipporah had with Austin?s Dad, Dan and Julie the event coordinator of Hoops of Hope during the month of August. Since then I have been interning with Hoops of Hope. I will be helping out in the media aspect of the organization like tweeting & blogging so that you will be kept up to date with the current events going on at hoops of hope. I am very excited to be part of this amazing organization!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010 @ 1:30pm

Hoops of Hope All Stars Event - Success!

Check out Synergy Production Group's blog for an update on the Hoops of Hope All Stars event in King of Prussia, including some great pictures from the day and the evening concert. Thanks to all of you who came out that day!

Synergy Blog - http://synergyprg.com/blog/

Monday, July 26, 2010 @ 1:17pm

All Stars Tour - This Weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 @ 9:20am

Austin on 100 Huntley Street in Canada

Monday, June 21, 2010 @ 9:59pm

STELLAR KART: AFRICA TRIP 2010 - DAY 6

Saturday, June 19, 2010 @ 6:26pm

Company Affinity 4 Hoops of Hope Event Raises $5K!


by Joe Flanagan

13NEWS / WVEC.com

Posted on June 3, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 3 at 5:57 PM

NORFOLK -- Hoops of Hope is all about raising money per basketball shot.

Affinity4, a Norfolk company, will score nearly $5,000 from atop Dominion Towers parking garage.

13-year-old Austin Gutwein of Arizona started Hoops of Hope to help orphaned children in Africa who have aids.

Affinity4 employees will donate the basketball hoops to ForKids of Norfolk, an organization that offers transitional housing to the homeless.

"They've helped me get everything I need. I mean, it's one of those things that if I didn't have ForKids, I would have been living in my car," said Ann Biesecker, a ForKids client.

Of course, the group is excited about the partnership.

In May alone, ForKids helped 615 people who would otherwise have been homeless.

"More than half that number are children, about 400 children" said spokeswoman Priscilla Monti. "Nobody wants to see that and nobody wants to let that happen."

Nearly $2 million has been raised nationally through Hoops of Hope.

Saturday, June 19, 2010 @ 6:16pm

NBC Philadelphia All Stars Coverage

Hoops of Hope All Stars is coming on July 31st at the King of Prussia Mall. Sign up at Hoops of Hope All Stars. Thanks to NBC for the following interview.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

Friday, April 16, 2010 @ 8:39am

Fundraising Dinner

Huge thank you to all of our volunteers who helped make our first ever dinner/auction a huge success. The following is a blog post from Stonebridge Manor who was our host for the event. In total, we raised a net of $52K which will go to helping the efforts in Zambia. Thanks to all who volunteered, attended, and donated.

Blog from Stonebridge Manor:
Stonebridge Manor has recently had the privilege of working with Hoops of Hope for their first annual fundraising event in Arizona to assist in its efforts in building a medical clinic in Zambia, hope centers in Swaziland and dorms for a school Hoops of Hope helped build.

Hoops of Hope was founded in 2004 by then 9 year old Austin Gutwein. The first fundraising effort by Austin raised $3000. To date, Hoops has raised more than $1.8million to benefit orphaned children in Africa.

At Hoops' recent event at Stonebridge Manor, I was humbled and inspired by the speech given by the now 15 year old Austin. Too frequently, we wonder if our efforts can make a positive impact. My hat is off to Austin for following his vision and creating an organization that has had a profound impact on the lives of many children in Africa.

The Hoops of Hope event was a huge success with ethnic music, silent and live auctions as well as updates to the contributors on the progress of building schools, medical clinics and dormitories. Congratulations Austin and all the Hoops of Hope volunteers!www.hoopsofhope.org

Monday, February 22, 2010 @ 3:33pm

Students Throw Hoops of Hope

Article Reprint from Montgomery News / North Penn Life

Students throw "Hoops for Hope"

By Tony Di DomizioFor North Penn Life Sink a free throw, help another Zambian youth get a place to sleep.

Feb. 21, Immanuel Church of the Nazarene in Towamencin will see close to 400 youths shoot free throws into 18 basketball nets in order to raise money to build dormitories for students in Twachiyanda, Zambia, and to provide for care centers for orphans in Swaziland.

Hoops of Hope will run from 1 to 7:30 p.m., and all of the participants are the 400 or so youths in the church?s Upward Basketball League.

The event can be attributed to coincidence and being at the right place at the right time.

When Richelle Holnick, 13, a Pennridge Central middle schooler, attended a Revolve concert in Philadelphia, she witnessed a speech from 15-year-old Austin Gutwein about his nonprofit organization he started in 2004 called Hoops for Hope, which raised money for children in Africa orphaned by AIDS.

"That experience showed me what one kid can do," Richelle said. "If we wanted he said he would e-mail everyone a way to start their own Hoops of Hope and the money will go to his organization to send over. I really wanted to help them out."

At around the same time, Marie Jansen was reading "A Hole in Our Gospel," which mentioned Gutwein and his effort.

Jansen and Holnick, unbeknownst to one another, approached the youth pastor at the church with the same idea and the same message.

"We got together," Richelle said, "and now we are getting to do this."

Each child participating in the event will get a sponsor to donate money toward their day of standing at the free-throw line shooting 1,000 baskets in honor of the children of Zambia and Swaziland.

"After I found out I was able to do this, I was happy that I could help and that other kids could help too," Richelle said.

Youths will be broken up by groups and proceed to shoot hoops. Each one will try to sink 1,000 baskets.

"The idea is kids are coming in and getting sponsors to raise money, and that money will go to build a dorm in Zambia, where Austin Gutwein has raised money to build a school," said Richelle?s mother, Cathy Holnick. "These kids have to walk so far for school, that they are sleeping in the school. They want to build a dorm so they have a place to sleep and they can go home on the weekends."

Hoops of Hope "shoot-athons" have funded the building of a high school for 1,000 students, a medical lab and a counseling center, according to Holnick.

Most recently, Hoops have helped fund a water project in Kenya and a second medical clinic in Zambia.

The Hoops of Hope universal goal is to raise $580,000 to complete dorms for the high school.

All money collected through Hoops of Hope go to World Vision, a nonprofit that facilitates the building of Hoops of Hope projects.

Because it is in its preliminary year, the church?s Hoops of Hope event will feature only youths in its Upward league.

"Let?s see how we can do with this the first year. In subsequent years, we are hoping we can open it up to the community," Cathy Holnick said. "Certainly, people can come from the community and be supportive at the event and they can donate as well."

Individuals can also show up and sponsor a child through World Vision, she said. A World Vision table will be at the event.

Businesses in the community have asked to either be sponsors or to donate prizes.

"We want to make it a festive event and keep kids motivated," Cathy Holnick said.

Saturday, February 20, 2010 @ 7:02pm

Gilbert Christian School Backpack Build


GILBERT, AZ ? A Gilbert teen is continuing his work to help out children in Africa.

Beginning Thursday morning, every Gilbert Christian School [GCS] student will walk down an assembly line hand packing a backpack full of school supplies to send to a school they helped to build in Zambia Africa in 2007.

The backpacks are part of 15-year-old GCS sophomore Austin Gutwein?s Hoops of Hope program.

In January, students from GCS participated in Hoops of Hope and raised $12,000 to fund the backpacks as well as raised $2500 to help an orphanage devastated by the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Gutwein, a tireless crusader for the 12.5 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa will be returning to Africa with a couple GCS students in June to hand deliver the backpacks.

Gutwein, who was recently named one of the top 10 most caring Americans by the Caring Institute, founded Hoops of Hope six years ago while in the 5th grade at GCS.

What started at GCS has grown to the largest free-throw shooting marathon in the world, involving tens of thousands of kids globally.

In the past five years, Hoops of Hope has raised nearly $2 million, opened a high school, four dormitories and two medical clinics to help orphan children in Africa.

Austin, who will be present at the backpack build, says, "It?s neat to see your own school get behind something. It shows that our school isn?t just about us, but it?s about giving and helping others. We now have thousands of schools around the world doing Hoops of Hope, but none as special as GCS".

In 2004, Austin was captivated by a World Vision video that told the story of a little girl named Maggie who lived in Zambia in Southern Africa.

She lost almost everyone she loved to the AIDS epidemic that ravaged the country, leaving nearly a million children orphaned.

"As I watched I just kept thinking about what it would be like if I lost my parents. I finally asked myself: What if this was me?" Austin writes in his book Take Your Best Shot.
Austin was changed forever, and he decided to do something about it. He used something he loved: basketball. His organization Hoops of Hope was born.

For more information visit hoopsofhope.org.








Thursday, February 11, 2010 @ 3:06pm

American School of Doha Hoops of Hope

Students hold first ?Hoops of Hope?

Students at the American School of Doha (ASD) hosted their first "Hoops of Hope" event yesterday to raise awareness about the plight of African children who have been orphaned by HIV/Aids.

Students were inspired by the speech of the Hoops of Hope founder during last year?s Global Issues Conference that was hosted by ASD. Hoops of Hope was started in 2004 by 10-year-old Austin Gutwein, who wanted to raise funds for the more than 15mn children who, by UN estimates, have been orphaned by HIV/Aids.

Basketball is one of the key activities of American student life, which makes Hoops of Hope, an event where students raise money by having people sponsor them for making a successful basketball throw, appropriate since this charity works specifically to help children who have been affected by HIV/Aids.

Close to 60 high school students rallied towards the organisers? goal of raising about QR3,000 making the event a success. Organisers and faculty hope that this will become an annual tradition at ASD.

Friday, February 5, 2010 @ 9:01am

Incredible Video

Last month, the Body of Christ Community Church in Ohio held a Hoops of Hope event. They raised $5700 for orphan children. Check out this video from their event. I think the last hoop shot will inspire you!

Hoops of Hope Fundraiser from Streamlab on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 @ 2:00pm

Haiti Interview with Rich Stearns

Check out this interview with Rich Stearns, President of World Vision. World Vision has over 800 people on the ground in Haiti.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 @ 8:03pm

Dormitory Update


We just received new photos of the dormitories! The first dormitory has opened and will hold up to 80 girls. These pictures were taken last week of two of the boys dormitories which will house 40 boys each. All of the supplies to finish the dorms have been secured and are on the job site. The project is on schedule and inspection from the Zambian Ministry of Education should happen next week. Bunk beds are also on site and will be moved into the dorms once inspection is complete. Thank you to everyone who shot hoops, donated, hosted, prayed, etc. for Hoops of Hope. You've forever changed the lives of kids in Zambia.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 @ 8:01pm

Haiti Relief

Thank you to everyone who donated during our Haiti relief drive. We were able to raise $3595 to help out friends at the Hands and Feet Orphanage in Jacmel.

Monday, January 18, 2010 @ 4:14pm

Haiti - 4 days left

So far, we've been able to raise $3100 to help our friends at the Hands and Feet Orphanage in Haiti. If you still want to give, everything we raise online for the next 4 days will go to help the deliver food and supplies to the 41 orphans at this center. To give, just go to www.hoopsofhope.org. Thank you for caring,

austin

Saturday, January 16, 2010 @ 9:34pm

Update on Haiti

Six days left in our campaign to help our friends at the Hands and Feet Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti. So far, we've raised $600 for the children to help deliver food and much needed supplies. 100% of everything we raise online for the next six days will go directly to this orphanage. Thank you for caring.

austin

Thursday, January 14, 2010 @ 10:05pm

Urgent - Hope for Haiti

Hi everyone. I'm sure by now everyone has heard about the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti. If you're looking for a way to help, here's what we're doing at Hoops of Hope: For the next 7 days, we're going to give 100% of everything raised online at www.hoopsofhope.org to help our friends with the Hands and Feet Orphanage in Haiti. Right now, all 41 children at the orphanage are okay but they'll need food and supplies soon. We want to help and need your help. All you need to do is click on www.hoopsofhope.org and click the Donate button. 100% of everything raised for the next 7 days will go to help our friends in Haiti. Please spread the word.

Thank you for caring for these children,

austin

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 3:42pm

2009 End of Year Update

As I look back and reflect on 2009, once again, I am amazed and humbled. I?m amazed at the passionate people who participated in and hosted events around the world. I?m humbled to be able to play a small role.

In a year where worry and cutbacks plagued many non-profits, we moved forward, holding 271 Hoops of Hope events and raising enough to fully fund four dormitories, a new medical clinic in Zambia, a water system in Kenya, and two hope centers in Swaziland. Because of thousands of volunteers, we were able to do this with the equivalent of two employees. This allowed us to keep our non-program cost to less than 5% and were able to continue to commit 100% of funds raised at our events to the children we?re helping.

Here is a quick update of the projects Hoops of Hope has been involved with:

  • Johnathan Sim Legacy High School: Now in it?s 2nd year, close to 500 students are receiving a high school education for the first time. Hoops of Hope has funded 4 dormitories to house 210 students of which many are currently sleeping in the classrooms. The first dorm to house 80 girls is open. The second dorm to house 40 boys is under construction. The remaining two dorms will open in 2010.

  • Medical Clinic in Sinazongwe: The clinic has been open for about 9 months and has served many people in the community offering life-saving treatment and counseling. As one of the government leaders put it, the clinic will save an "entire generation" of Zambian children.

  • Medical Clinic in Chilala: The clinic in Chilala has been fully funded and is currently under construction due to open mid 2010.

  • Water Project in Kenya: Hoops of Hope partnered with LCBC in Pennsylvania to fund a complete water system in Kenya that is under construction.

  • Hope Centers in Swaziland: These two centers provide a safety net for children orphaned by AIDS. Each center offers education, food, healthcare and life-skills training.

Equally as important as the projects we?re working on, we were able to impact nearly 20,000 young people who participated in a Hoops of Hope marathon. These students were able to realize that they can make a difference no matter what their age.

I?ll share an update on the projects we?re working on for 2010 in a blog to be posted later this week. In the meantime, thank you for being a part of Hoops of Hope.

Dan

Director [volunteer]

Friday, December 18, 2009 @ 1:18pm

Need Magazine

I first heard of NEED Magazine a few years ago when they ran an article on Hoops of Hope. I was intrigued by their tag line of "We're not out to save the world but to tell the stories of those who are" and I've been a subscriber and follower since. The following clip aired recently on CNN and it's about how their co-founder ended up helping children while working on a documentary. So Kelly, today, we're telling your story...because you are helping to change the world.


Friday, December 11, 2009 @ 12:51pm

Recent All Stars News

Hope you'll join us at the Hoops of Hope All Stars Tour in 2010!

Friday, December 4, 2009 @ 3:28pm

Blog Winner!

Mark is the lucky winner of Austin?s book ? Take Your Best Shot ? as well as Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham, Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado, and Word of Promise Next Generation Audio New Testament all from Tommy Nelson. You can follow them at www.twitter.com/tommynelson andwww.facebook.com/tommynelsonkids.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment on the blog. We'll do more give-a-ways in the future!

HOH Team

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Austin's World AIDS Day Blog

It?s amazing to think that today; December 1st marks six years since Hoops of Hope began. My family and I are always humbled to look back at how God has used this simple event. For those of you who don?t know when or why Hoops of Hope started I want to give you a little background.

Hoops of Hope began in the spring of 2004. We had been sponsoring two children through World Vision and received a video in the mail. So we sat down as a family and watched it. I remember just not knowing what to think as the narrator described this little girl named Maggie who had lost everyone in her life except her great-grandmother. What was even sadder though was Maggie lived in Zambia and struggled to find food. And Maggie wasn?t alone. There are over 15 million children who have been left alone because of this disease. Of this 15 million, 12 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

I remember asking my parents that night what we could do to help. A few weeks later I had a call with a man at World Vision who simply encouraged me to use my favorite sport to make a difference. I decided I would play basketball to help kids like Maggie. The first time I went out to shoot my hoops was December 1st, which is also World AIDS Day. I had friends and family rebounding for me as I shot 2,057 free throws. One for every child orphaned during my school day. Six years ago that happened and that night I told my parents that I wanted to do it again but with a lot more kids.

Since then Hoops of Hope has taken off, and this week, we?ll have over 60 events in 15 countries. We have been able to help build a school for 1,000 kids, build a major water project, two medical clinics, two Hope Centers, four dormitories, donate bicycles, and help to save countless lives. All from shooting some hoops. Nothing fancy. Nothing creative. We just shot some hoops.

But the best thing about Hoops of Hope is still to come. You see, many of the participants are kids and teenagers. And we might not know how this has changed them for a long time. Every once in a while we?ll meet an adult who thinks it?s just kids making a difference. We simply let them know that we have participants ages 4 to 72. This year, we?re going on the Hoops of Hope All Star Tour with a goal of shooting 15 million free throws. One for every child left behind. You can join us by visiting our website and clicking the All Star button.

When I was over in Zambia the chief of the Tonga people told me that God used teenagers in America to change the lives of his teenagers over in Zambia. The chief was challenging his teens to start making a difference. What an awesome thing that is to know that more and more teenagers are seeing that they can change the world. My prayer has always been that kids and teens would realize they can make a difference and they can do it now. You?re never too young to make a difference and you?re never too old to start. As we think about these six years I will continue praying that prayer. That God will stir something inside my generation that we just can?t contain.

-austin

Get a signed copy of "Take Your Best Shot"

Each day this week Hoops of Hope is partnering with Tommy Nelson and
giving away a copy of my new book, Take Your Best Shot! On Friday we are
giving away a prize pack full of not only my book but the new books and
live DVD's from my buddies and fellow Revolve speakers Jenna Lucado and
Chad Eastham, who have also been to Africa!!! We are even throwing in a
copy of Word of Promise Next Generation Audio New Testament.

To be entered into this giveaway...

Leave a comment on this blog post...
For extra entries...

Follow Tommy Nelson on Twitter
Follow Hoops of Hope on Twitter
Become a Facebook Fan of Tommy Nelson and Hoops of Hope
Leave a separate comment for each thing you do!

The low-down: ReTweet @TommyNelson's daily giveaways to be entered to
win a copy of Take Your Best Shot, signed by Austin, every day this
week. Comment here to enter the big Friday giveaway - a Prize Pack of
goodies for teens.

Monday, November 30, 2009 @ 3:09pm

Tuesday, December 1 - World AIDS Day

Hey everyone - be sure to check the blog tomorrow to find out how you can win a signed copy of Take Your Best Shot!

Sunday, November 29, 2009 @ 4:45pm

Happy Thanksgiving From Austin

I love Thanksgiving a lot. I enjoy everything about it. Most importantly I always think about family. And how lucky we are to live in the greatest country in the world. But, while we are so thankful we have to make sure we remember that there are others who don?t have as much.

Today, I was on the World Vision website and I one of the things I noticed was that you could pick any child you wanted. You could go down to the gender, country, even birthday. At first I thought that it was pretty cool that you could do that. But, the truth is that it's very sad. You see there are so many children out there that need to be helped.

I think that when it comes to being thankful it's also a call to action. In the Bible it says, to whom much is given much is required. So as we enter this great season of giving I would also encourage you to give to the least of these. Always keep in mind that we can change the world, one step at a time.

-austin

Thursday, November 26, 2009 @ 9:31am

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving from the Hoops of Hope team. We are so thankful for each one of you. Thank you for your support, volunteer hours and passion to help those less fortunate.

Blessings,

The HOH Team

Friday, November 20, 2009 @ 9:05am

Chilala Clinic Photos


We just received some updated photos from the clinic we're building with World Vision in Chilala, Zambia. The clinic will open in the Spring 2010 and will have a CD4 count machine, will provide treatment and counseling on HIV/AIDS, TB and other diseases for the community. Additionally, there will be staff housing on site.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project!

Monday, November 9, 2009 @ 8:24am

Austin talking about All Stars Tour

New video from NBC in Philadelphia where Austin talks about the upcoming All Stars Tour in 2010! Be sure to click on the All Stars button to register!

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

Monday, November 2, 2009 @ 11:14am

If the World Were a Village of 100 People

Have you ever tried to wrap your mind around some of the statistics about the world that come your way? I do, and it?s quite difficult to comprehend. In my Social Work class, we received a handout showing statistics about various things as if the world consisted of 1000 people. This helped me to gain more of an understanding of some of the realities. I found a video that shows statistics if the world consisted of only 100 people. I thought I?d share it with you. It's very eye opening and shows how much of the world struggles with just having basic needs. The good news is, we can hopefully lower some of these statistics by doing our part in making a difference for the world.


::If the world were a village of 100 people::

43 (nearly half) live without basic sanitation
18 live without an improved water source
6 people own 59% of the entire wealth of the community
13
are hungry or malnourished
14
can?t read
7 are educated at a secondary level
1 adult has
HIV/AIDS
18 struggle to live on $1 per day or less
53 struggle to live on $2 per day or less
If you have a roof over your head with a bed, closet, and fridge,
you are richer than 75% of the entire world population


Tara

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 @ 9:29am

Ancient Civilization


Recently my family got to visit the Tonto National Monument here in Arizona. We had been camping at the base of the mountains, on Lake Roosevelt and decided since we were only a mile away from the national park that we?d drive over to check it out. Amazingly, this "monument" turned out to be ruins left by Native Americans who first settled the area.

The hike to the ruins was pretty steep, but paved the whole way. So, the younger kids had no problem traversing the trail. The more ?mature? among us quickly realized how out of shape we really are! As we hiked, I found myself wondering why in the world this ancient civilization decided to build their city almost at the top of a very steep mountain. Of course, there are the obvious reasons like safety, but what struck me was that here we were on this paved trail and all they had was rough desert at the time they built their domain.

It taught us a lot about who these people that lived so long ago were. They were obviously not afraid of hard work, given that they had to make that trek over and over again while carrying building materials to build their homes. They must have been quite resourceful, given that all these years later huge portions of the walls they built still stood, and, as my 9 year old son pointed out, they didn?t have very supportive underwear, because they had some garments on display at the museum at the base of the hill and seriously, they did NOT look comfortable!

Knowing these few things about the people who lived so long ago, got me thinking about what future generations might say about us. My hope would be that they?d talk about how much we cared for each other, how much we gave of ourselves for each other, and how much we worked to help heal the hurts of our generation. Unfortunately, if all they have to go on are old news reports then that might not be the impression they?re left with. However, if they happen to dig deeper and find things like Hoops of Hope, and other organizations working to make a difference, then I believe they will get that picture. They?ll see that there was a generation of people who saw hurting, and vowed to help do something about it. They?ll see that kids stood up and decided to think beyond themselves to make a difference. They?ll see adults who?s hearts were so heavy by the hurting they saw that they would volunteer their time and give of their resources to help. Just through Hoops of Hope alone, generations in Africa have been impacted in a hugely positive way!

The reality of it is that this generation IS making a difference. This world we live in has many problems, but it also has many good people who are taking their best shot and making themselves available to be part of the solution. Hopefully, we are leaving a legacy of giving, helping, and loving so that when we are an "ancient civilization", those looking back at us will see that legacy above all else. That?s my hope and I believe it will be realized, because I look around and see all of you who are living it, giving of yourselves for people you don?t even know. You?re amazing, and it?s awesome to see!

Julie

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 @ 3:27pm

Across a distant sea

I imagine you woke up today in a pretty nice bed. You probably took a shower, had breakfast, and went about your daily routine. I did too. In fact, I woke up in a large, warm bed. I took a hot shower, walked into my closet full of clothes and picked out an outfit of my choice. I then applied makeup to my face, dried my hair and straightened it with the necessary appliances. I took a look in the mirror to make sure I looked decent before going out. I went downstairs, ate a piece of toast with peanut butter, then headed out of the house for the day. I got into my car and drove two miles to school. And as I was sitting in my Astronomy class, I began thinking about the many children and adults across a distant sea who had a drastically different morning than I.

Take one person similar to me. In this case, a young old girl in Zambia. This girl probably woke up this morning on a dirt floor squished next to her brothers and sisters. I?m sure she didn?t take a shower. In fact, she probably hasn?t had one in days or weeks. I bet this girl didn?t walk into her closet to pick out a set of clothes, because the only outfit she has is already on her. I?m sure she didn?t apply any makeup or even look in a mirror. Who knows if she has ever even seen a reflection of herself. I?m pretty sure this girl didn?t eat breakfast this morning because there might not be any food available in her household. I can guarantee she didn?t get in a car to drive two miles to school. Instead, she probably walked 20 miles to fetch a bucket of water at sunrise. And I imagine that the rest of her day was spent working outside in the heat and taking care of her siblings, while I enjoyed a bagel, coffee, and some magazines at a bookstore.

I couldn?t stop thinking about these kids today. What?s tragic about this is that there are millions of children around the world who live this way every single day of their life. It?s heartbreaking. But you want to know also what is incredible to me? There are hundreds of children in Zambia who are in class right now studying and gaining knowledge because you have provided a hope and a future for them. Not only are they getting to go to school, but they will soon have a nice place to sleep, in dorms at the school! These kids are now waking up with a joy in their heart because they get the opportunity to attend school to learn so that they can grow up to live a better life. And you know what? These kids aren?t the only ones who will be impacted in Zambia. There are hundreds more who will receive this same blessing if we all keep doing what we have been the last few years. I can?t even believe that as I sit in my Astronomy class, a young girl in Africa gets to sit in her class and have a complete hope for the future. It amazes me how much of an impact kids in blessed nations, like America, have made on kids in developing countries like Africa. Never forget that lives are being impacted and forever changed because of you. Keep it up!

Tara

Friday, October 16, 2009 @ 3:00pm

Key Club Hoops of Hope

Check out this video from the Dysart Key Club Hoops of Hope event.

Friday, October 9, 2009 @ 11:37am

Africa update


Thought I'd share a couple of pictures from our dormitory project at the Jonathan Sim high school. As most of you probably know, when we where there in March, we learned there were tons of children sleeping on the floor in the classrooms because it is too far to walk home each night. So with the help of incredible donors around the world, we were able to raise money to start construction of four dormitories at the school. The girls dorm is finished and you can see the bunks being moved in.The 1st boys dorm is under construction as well
Thank
you to everyone who took part in Hoops of Hope so far this year. You've made such a difference.

- Dan







Thursday, October 1, 2009 @ 8:35am

Lettin' the laundry wait


Do you ever feel like you have so much going on that it's just a bit overwhelming? I know I do! For me, there's getting the kids to and from school, piano practice, chess club, mid-week church events, and whatever else they have happening in a given week. On top of that there's grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, finding time to connect with friends, and, oh yea, work! I'm lucky, though, because my work is actually something I LOVE. I get to work with people all around the world who are making a huge difference in the lives of kids orphaned by AIDS, and I get to do it with a team of people I think are absolutely incredible. Honestly, I don't think it gets any better than that!

Right now is the busiest time of year for all of us at Hoops of Hope. Austin is traveling just about every week, speaking all over the country, and World AIDS Awareness Day on December 5th is fast approaching. Some days, things like laundry just have to wait. But, it's o.k. It's o.k. because right now the kids in Africa are what matters most. They're getting the help they so desperately need, and that's more important than always having my favorite pair of jeans clean.

So many people have stepped up to partner with us this year, and it's totally amazing to be a part of it. Between now and December 5th, we have 14 confirmed Hoops of Hope events all around the country. Another 38 events are scheduled for the month of December, and 20 people have already said they're on for hosting an event in 2010! Every single day we are contacted by more people who want to get involved. Wow!!

I just want to say that you all are amazing! The kids you are helping will forever be grateful, and as busy as it is, we at Hoops of Hope wouldn't have it any other way. So, "bring it on!" I say! Keep me busy - let's help some kids together... my laundry can just wait.

Julie

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 @ 10:24am

Taking a second glance


This past week I had the opportunity to go to Baltimore with the Revolve Tour. As we drove through downtown on our way to our hotel, several homeless people caught my eye. I looked at one of them, and like most people, my first inclination was to turn away. Just turn my head and look away. I wanted to pretend like this person was not even there. Like he didn?t even exist. How many times do we do this? We see a man holding a sign off the freeway, or a child on our TV in need and our first thought is to just look away. Sometimes we think it is best to pretend like they aren?t even there. I wanted to do this too when I saw this man. But I knew the incredible power of a second glance. My heart said to give something to him. And I had the chance but then it was gone. The car resumed its course. I knew the incredible power of a second glance but did I take it? No, and I wish I did.

When we make a difference we are taking a second glance. When we help someone in need, we are taking a second glance. Instead of just saying, "that?s too bad" we are doing something about it. Just doing what we can is enough. Whether it is making a difference for 1 or 100?it's making a difference.

Honestly, that?s how I feel about the girls who attend Revolve. They see a need, kids without school supplies, and the take a second glance. They do something about it. The Revolve Tour girls in Baltimore, and in cities all over the country, are making a difference. They are caring about kids in need and I am so thankful to be apart of that with them.

Taking a second glance, is taking action. So, the next time I see a need, I?m looking twice. How about you? Will you take a second glance today? - austin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 @ 8:10pm

The First Day of Fall


With temps still nearing 100 degrees, here in Arizona it's hard to believe that the fist day of fall was actually yesterday! Where I'm from, fall means lots of red, orange, and yellow leaves on trees, school starting, and that it's time to get out the winter coats because there will soon be frost on the ground (if there hasn't been already). Since moving to Arizona I've come to realize that none of these things really happen here this time of year. School has already been in session for several weeks, the yellowing we see in our yard is actually the lawn needing to be over-seeded (something totally new to me since moving to the desert), and we no longer own any "real" winter coats.

I'm not complaining - at all! I'll take the 95 degrees in September over 9 months of rain and cold any day! But, having lived and visited many different climates, it's interesting to me how different each place can be during the same time of year simply because of where it's located on this Earth. In Zambia this week they'll have high temperatures in the 80's to low 90's with clear skies and probably no rain. Sounds nice! Next month it will warm to their highest temps of the year but still not likely go to above 95 degrees or so. Sounds great to those of us who brave 115 degrees in the middle of our warmest month, doesn't it? Or, does it?

95 degrees with lots of humidity can be pretty sticky, and when most of the population of Zambia lives without things like running water (let alone swimming pools to cool off in), or electricity (don't even mention air conditioning!), it suddenly doesn't sound so great anymore. Then, there's the rainy season. For those with nothing but a thatched roof over their heads, February in Zambia sounds downright miserable. But, there's hope...

With the help of so many of you around the world, Hoops of Hope has been able to build things like medical clinics that have real walls and solid roofs to keep the sun from directly beating down on the hurting people of that part of our world. You've helped build a school so that students can study and keep dry at the same time. Construction has begun on dormitories that will give kids a safe, dry, comfortable place to lay their heads at night. There has been real, tangible progress made there, and it's all because of those of you who cared enough to set aside a few hours out of your year to shoot some hoops. Very cool!

When it's raining like crazy in February, I hope you remember those that you've helped and that it puts a smile on your face. And, when it's as hot as it'll get next month, we can think of the shelter that those kids will have in the new dormitories. There's still much to do, and we don't plan on stopping any time soon (if we can help it), so keep up the good work all of you who partner with us on this journey. We appreciate you more than you'll probably ever know - and more importantly so do thousands of people, and generations to come, in a country many of us might never even get to see.

-Julie

Friday, September 18, 2009 @ 3:50pm

Do Something Bigger than You


This is a blog I just posted for ThinkMTV. - Austin

Doing something bigger than yourself doesn?t depend on your ability it depends on your availability. That phrase was so true in my life. Because if you were to look at my ability I was definitely not "qualified". But you see making a difference isn?t about how qualified you are or about how popular you are, it's about how willing you are. And I realized that as my adventure began.

My adventure began six years ago after I watched a video about a girl who had lost her parents to AIDs. I began thinking about it and for a nine year old it was scary. I didn?t know what this thing called AIDs even was. All I knew is that it was leaving kids without their parents. I couldn?t imagine living without my parents and yet 15 million kids had to go through this. If you don?t think that?s a big number, think of it this way - If 15 million kids linked hands and stood in a straight line, they would go from Los Angeles to New York and back again 5½ times!

I knew I had to do something. My ability didn?t make a difference to me. A man from World Vision encouraged me to use my favorite sport to make a difference. So I started a free throw marathon called Hoops of Hope. Over the past six years we have raised of 1.5 million dollars to help children orphaned by AIDs. We have built a school and two health clinics in and AIDs ravaged region of Zambia. 100% of what we raise goes to help these kids.

I learned early on that I was not popular (I?m still not) or good at basketball but that didn?t stop me. And I would encourage you as you read this to know that you, no matter what your skills or age, can make a difference. It's about your availability. It's about how willing you are to make a difference. Making a difference doesn?t have to be some big huge ordeal. In fact, you can make a difference by simply picking up trash, helping at the homeless shelter, recycling. Only you know what your passionate about and only you know whose life is going to be forever changed because of you.

This year I have an amazing opportunity to encourage my generation to do just that. It is my second year with an incredible conference called the Revolve Tour. This all-teen girls event really motivates my generation to get involved in changing lives. We certainly aren?t doing it because of our ability. The girls at the Revolve Tour are passionate about making a difference and they?re doing just that. We?re stuffing backpacks with school supplies, and a warm blanket and we?re going to deliver them to the school in Africa next summer. It is so motivating for me to see 8,000 girls each weekend come together ready to change the world. They care about seeing lives changed. And that is what I would encourage you to do. Whether you?re a teenager like me, a grandparent, or somewhere in between, care. You can make an impact and it can start today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 @ 9:54pm

Perspective Adjustment

My daughter came home from school one day this past week with an itchy, red eye. We?ve never experienced the "joys" of pink eye in our family so I didn?t immediately identify it as that. The next morning, however, it was unmistakable.

Sad that she had to miss school, we made the trek to the doctor?s office. I say "trek" because our doctor is a half hour drive from home. We arrived only to find one available chair in the waiting room. Every other chair was filled with coughing, sneezing, or crying little ones. "Oh great" I thought? just what we need, more germs!

It had been a while since our last visit to the doctor so I had to spend time filling out all kinds of paperwork so that they could update our records. Then, we waited? and waited! Over an hour past our appointment time, we finally got called back to see the doctor. She proceeded to ask me 3 questions, look into my daughter?s eye and then announce "yep, it?s pink eye!" It took a total of 5 minutes! While we waited for the prescription to be written, I found myself feeling extremely frustrated. I mean, I put my day on hold, spent way too much time driving & waiting, only to hear the diagnosis I already knew. What a hassle!

Then, I found myself thinking of the millions of children in Africa who wish they could drive half of an hour to the doctor?s office, wish they could wait for an hour in a comfy chair while watching a Disney movie on T.V., wish they could fill out mounds of paperwork so that a doctor would actually be able to keep "records" for them, and wish they could top off the whole experience with the medicine that would help them get well AND a lollipop on top of that! Wow ? what those millions of kids wouldn?t give to have an experience ½ as good as mine that day.

Suddenly, I couldn?t feel frustrated anymore. In fact, I felt rather spoiled. When we left the doctor?s office, I knew we?d be enjoying a nice lunch together and then going home to a warm, clean, beautiful home where the only sickness we have to deal with at the moment is easily treatable and would be gone in a few short days ? thanks to a trip to the doctor?s office.

I call moments like that "perspective adjustments". I?m so blessed to be able to call myself even a small part of Hoops of Hope, knowing that so many people are being helped because so many of you are unwilling to sit by idly while knowing others suffer. Thousands now have access to medical help because of you! Have we helped everyone who needs it? Obviously not. Is there still more that needs to be done? Absolutely! As long as we all keep looking beyond our own circumstances and taking time for more "perspective adjustments" then I believe we can (and will) make a huge difference in the lives of many!

-Julie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 @ 10:19am

Update from the Sinazongwe Clinic


We just received some new photos from the clinic in Sinazongwe! In fact, the CD4 count machine was recently installed and the reports from the clinic are incredible. In this picture, you can see the lines waiting to be tested! Thank you for doing something bigger than yourself!

[the following is a letter as written from one of the workers at the clinic]
On interview Joyce Muyanda, female 42 who is a Chairlady for one of the Sinazongwe Support group who was found at the clinic already carrying out educational talks with the clients could not hold her excitement for the machine that had just been installed nearer to be accessed by many sick people. In her words she said, "We are really very happy to have this CD4 machine here at this Laboratory because it has cut on our distance to Maamba hospital (which is 60km away) to have this service. And even if we travelled to Mamba Hospital the results would not be availed immediately, we would be given different dates to go and collect the results. This was so tasking and expensive on us because not everyone could afford transport money to and from Maamba. Moreover I feel this was also contributing on our conditions to getting worse because such longer distance travels to and from Maamba every now and then where we usually move on empty stomachs had a negative bearing on our nutritional status and general conditions. We have lost most of our friends in the same situation because they would not afford travelling to Maamba for the CD4 machine services". She lamented almost tearing out for the joy of how much the CD4 machine would now contribute not only to the communities surrounding Sinazongwe but even other nearby clinics. "It is amazing how God can use even young people to reach out for lives. We remember the time of launching the Laboratory, that young donor we saw really young yet could be used in such great ways. Here it is we thought it would not be a reality that the machine would finally be here", Joyce continued "May the Lord bless such people to bring back life in others who are sick and hopeless.

Monday, September 14, 2009 @ 2:02pm

Update from the Sinazongwe Clinic

We just received some new photos from the clinic in Sinazongwe! In fact, the CD4 count machine was recently installed and the reports from the clinic are incredible. In this picture, you can see the lines waiting to be tested! Thank you for doing something bigger than yourself!

[the following is a letter as written from one of the workers at the clinic]
On interview Joyce Muyanda, female 42 who is a Chairlady for one of the Sinazongwe Support group who was found at the clinic already carrying out educational talks with the clients could not hold her excitement for the machine that had just been installed nearer to be accessed by many sick people. In her words she said, "We are really very happy to have this CD4 machine here at this Laboratory because it has cut on our distance to Maamba hospital (which is 60km away) to have this service. And even if we travelled to Mamba Hospital the results would not be availed immediately, we would be given different dates to go and collect the results. This was so tasking and expensive on us because not everyone could afford transport money to and from Maamba. Moreover I feel this was also contributing on our conditions to getting worse because such longer distance travels to and from Maamba every now and then where we usually move on empty stomachs had a negative bearing on our nutritional status and general conditions. We have lost most of our friends in the same situation because they would not afford travelling to Maamba for the CD4 machine services". She lamented almost tearing out for the joy of how much the CD4 machine would now contribute not only to the communities surrounding Sinazongwe but even other nearby clinics. "It is amazing how God can use even young people to reach out for lives. We remember the time of launching the Laboratory, that young donor we saw really young yet could be used in such great ways. Here it is we thought it would not be a reality that the machine would finally be here", Joyce continued "May the Lord bless such people to bring back life in others who are sick and hopeless.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 @ 4:40pm

Labor Day

A couple of days ago was Labor Day here in the U.S. After enjoying an extra long week end I found myself wondering what Labor Day was really all about anyway. For my family it meant an extra day off to get things done around the house, hang out with friends, and BBQ. But what really is Labor Day? I'm sure I could ask my 9 year old - he probably knows. But, for me it's just been too long since learning about it in school so I decided to look it up.

Observed the 1st Monday in September, Labor Day actually originated from Canada. A U.S. labor leader witnessed a "labor festival" while visiting there, and decided to bring the idea back to our country. New York was the first state to observe Labor Day in 1882, in the aftermath of a messy labor strike that ended in death for a number of workers. President Cleveland was all about coming up with ways to bridge the gap between the American worker and the government so he quickly decided to back the idea of a day to celebrate the worker. 

Interestingly, over the years the true meaning of Labor Day has been all but lost. I mean, I knew it had something to do with workers and labor unions, but really how many of us really pay attention to what we are supposedly "celebrating" on the 1st Monday in September? For me it's always been about the last week end of summer and another day to do 'whatever', and honestly, it still is that for me.

After re-learning what it's really all about, I found myself wondering... do they have holidays like Labor Day in Africa? Hmmm... I really don't know, but somehow I seriously doubt it. I am absolutely positive there are workers in Africa who work harder than I can even imagine, yet they don't get a "day off" to just relax and enjoy life. Another reminder of just how blessed we are to live in this nation of prosperity! 

With that in mind, I've chosen the rest of this week to remember the African worker - the farmer trying to provide for his family, the school teacher trying to give children the knowledge they need to live a better life, and the local care giver who gives so sacrificially of her time and energy to help AIDS patients who can't travel the many miles to a clinic for simple treatments that can prolong their lives. These workers are true heros in my book, and I feel incredibly fortunate to play even a small part in helping them. They deserve a 'labor day' - a day off to enjoy whatever they want to enjoy. Sadly, they will likely not get it this side of heaven, but I know there are ways we can all help and Hoops of Hope is incredibly blessed to be a part of some of them.

-Julie

Friday, September 4, 2009 @ 1:24pm

Milimo Chikwikwi

Several months ago my family sponsored our first child through World Vision. Since I was a teen ager, attending Christian concerts, I had heard about child sponsorship and there have been many times I've wanted to pick one up, but just didn't. When the opportunity arose for us to sponsor a little boy who lives in the area of Zambia where Hoops of Hope does much of our work, we jumped on it! We are all incredibly excited!

The very next day I took my kids to the store to pick out some things to mail to Milimo. Because of package size restrictions we are limited on what we can send, but we had a blast picking out things like colored pencils, small pads of paper, bandanas, and other items that would fit in the envelope. The kids drew pictures, I wrote a note, we included a photo of our family, and then mailed it off.

For several weeks we waited. Waited for some kind of response - something that would connect us to little Milimo Chikwikwi in Twachiyanda, Zambia. A few days ago, it finally came!! A letter with a Zambian stamp! We made ourselves wait until dad got home so that we could all open it together. When we finally got to tear into the envelope, we were beyond excitement! In it was a letter from Milimo, translated and written out by a local volunteer. We got to hear all about his life, his family, and what his interests are. Very cool moment for us!

We were again reminded why we have this "pen pal" in Zambia. His life is in such stark contrast to ours, and yet he had such positive things to say about where he lives, who he lives with, etc. Clearly his joy is not found in what he possesses, or how comfortable his life is. Milimo choses to have joy even amidst living well below what we call poverty in this country. So humbling!

With renewed ferver we all started planning the next package to our new friend, and more importantly we prayed for him. Every night before bed my kids pray for him, throughout the day when we see his sweet face on our refrigerator we pray for him, and in moments of selfishness when I find myself wishing I had "this" or "that", I try to stop and think of Milimo, and I pray for him.

Little Milimo has touched our lives more than he'll probably ever know. We may never get to meet him, but we are blessed to be able to help him through sponsorship. The joy that brings is almost inexplainable, and is so amazing! If you haven't yet sponsored a child, I encourage you to visit the Hoops of Hope website, and chose a child today. Not only will you be helping to change a life around the globe, but you will likely be forever changed as well.

Julie

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 @ 4:43pm

Soccer Kicks 4 Kids

Earlier this month, I heard of a seventh grade girl who started a program called, Soccer Kicks 4 Kids. Check out the following video to hear Alex's amazing story.

Soccer Kicks 4 Kids from Steve Browning on Vimeo.



Dan

Monday, August 31, 2009 @ 11:09am

Why am I Blessed?

One question I?ve always asked God, and myself, since I was a kid is, "Why am I so blessed?" "How come I was born in this wealthy nation with a loving family and numerous possessions, while someone across the world was born in a poor community with no toys, no access to education, and no parents?"

A few months ago, I was knocked off my feet. I had been noticing that I was complaining about what my mom made for dinner or that there was ?nothing? in the house to eat (even though there was plenty...it just didn?t sound good to me). Throughout my time of complaining, I kept being reminded that I am abundantly blessed. That little voice inside my head (I call the Holy Spirit) kept coming back and convicting me. Then one night after I took a swig of cold bottled water and as I shut off the kitchen light, using the automatic switch, and as I walked across the tiled floor, up on the carpeted staircase and into my luxurious room with painted walls, a queen sized bed, and an expensive drum set, I got a glimpse of a small mud hut with dirt floors, a curtain for a door, and one single mattress for a bed. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I felt ashamed for having all this stuff. For having a room bigger than what some people have as a house. I went to bed that night with a heavy heart.

It isn?t fair. I?m no better than a girl my age living across the globe in Africa. So why is it that I can go to the store whenever I want to buy food and miscellaneous stuff while this girl has to walk miles and miles just to get water? (dirty water at that)

I don?t know why. I don?t understand it. I don?t think anybody here on earth does. What I do know is that I can help. I?ve always heard the term I?ve been "blessed to be a blessing." Maybe I can?t build this girl a big house complete with air conditioning, a large comfortable bed, and a computer. But I can give her what is important. I can give her access to food, clean water, and education. I can send her love all the way from my home in Arizona. I can sacrifice a few movie nights to provide this girl with a future.


Tara K.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 @ 11:10am

It's not about the bananna bread!

We have new neighbors. Well, actually they've been here over 2 months so they're not really "new" anymore. Since the day they moved in my kids have been asking if we could go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. Of course, having every intention of doing so, I told them we'd make some banana bread and take it over. The first week end came and I said we should probably let them get settled a bit longer before parading over there. The second week end came and we were too "busy". The third week end came, and so did another excuse. You get the picture. As much as I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and as much as I really did want the new neighbors to feel welcomed, I continued to allow silly excuses stop me... until two days ago!

My kids asked (for probably the 50th time) if we could go meet the new neighbors. I immediately started in with the excuse that it would be a better thing to do on the week end, and besides, I hadn't made the banana bread yet. My 9 year old's response stunned me! Without missing a beat, he fired back with "Mom, it's not about the banana bread". My 6 year old then followed that up with "yeah, we can just give them friendship". Talk about a one-two punch! I very quickly realized that I was out of excuses and the only thing left to do was to get over there!

So, I set aside whatever else we had going on, made that banana bread, and as soon as my husband got home from work we made the walk to the "new" neighbor's house. What a blessing it turned out to be! They invited us in and told us their story of moving here from another state, then shared that they really don't know anyone in the area. It meant so much to them that we had gone out of our way to come over that the mom even got tears in her eyes.

I left there that evening feeling bad that we hadn't done it sooner, but so glad that we finally had! The whole experience was an incredible reminder that we won't always be asked to do the comfortable or easy thing, but doing it anyway is the right thing, and we might just get surprised with an amazing blessing in the process.

It makes me think of the thousands of people who've participated in Hoops of Hope events around the world. Is shooting hundreds or thousands of free throws easy, or comfortable? No, not for most of us anyway. But, is doing something to help others the right thing to do? Absolutely! So, whether you've shot some free throws to help AIDS orphans in Africa, or ran a marathon to help find a cure for cancer, or even made some banana bread for your neighbor - whatever it is, let me just say thank you! Way to think beyond yourself and act it out to help make a difference in our world! You're an inspiration, and I hope that you've been as blessed as I feel I have been for stepping out and doing it even when it might not have been convenient or easy. Way to go!

Julie

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 @ 6:50pm

5 Year old Collect Thousands of Toys

Thought I'd share a story that was sent to us this week. What an inspiring 5 year old girl! She is definitely doing something bigger than herself. Check out the video below

VIDEO - Click Here

Dan

Friday, August 21, 2009 @ 1:03pm

The "Wish People"

My family and I had the privilege this past week of taking a meal to a friend who is sick. Our friend greeted us at the door, while holding on to her daddy?s leg to help steady herself. We were so excited to see her even standing, let alone answering the door! We asked her how she was feeling and she didn?t really respond, just put her head against her dad. You see, our friend is only 5 years old, and has an aggressive form of brain cancer. It?s hard for her to walk, talk, or even to smile. I write this because what happened next brings tears to my eyes even as I think of it now. We asked her how her day had gone and she said "The wish people are coming" then gave us a big grin! Her dad quickly explained that the Make A Wish Foundation was sending representatives to their house that very evening and they were going to grant her a wish. It was all that little Kate could talk about. She was so excited!

It got me thinking about the "wish people" and wondering how that all got started. I mean this is a huge organization that has granted over 180 thousand wishes to kids all around the world! How did they begin? What I discovered should not have surprised me. Much like Hoops of Hope, the idea of the Make A Wish Foundation is traced back to one person, who wanted to help one child. A little boy named Chris wanted desperately to become a police officer so a family friend helped him make that dream a reality, just days before he lost his battle to leukemia. That one simple act of kindness helped give a dying child an experience he had always dreamed of, and sparked a movement that we now know as the "wish people".

One man helping a sick child fulfill a dream. One kid in his back yard with a basketball. These are people who took their best shot, and in doing so have changed lives, and inspired countless others to do the same. It?s simple really, and humbling.

So, what?s your best shot? The answer might be simpler than you think.

Julie

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 @ 6:26pm

World Humanitarian Day

It seems like there is a "day" set aside for almost everything. Seriously, just take a look at most calendars and you'll find special days throughout the year. But I doubt you'll find a calendar that has "World Humanitarian Day" listed on it, but that's exactly what today, August 19th is recognized as. On December 11, 2008, the United Nations adopted today as World Humanitarian Day to honor those who have lost their lives helping others.

In honor of the day, I decided to look closer at what it really means to be a "Humanitarian". I found a lot of definitions, most of which describe a humanitarian as a person "actively engaged in promoting human welfare". A humanitarian is someone who "has concern for helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people". Wow, this could describe so many people, couldn't it? Think about it...pastors, teachers, police, public servants? All are humanitarians aren't they? Aren't they actively involved in helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people?

Well, this got me thinking about all of the people who selflessly volunteer thousands of hours to help host Hoops of Hope events around the world. There isn't a day that goes by that everyone close to Hoops of Hope isn't completely blown away by the passionate and serving people that work with us. These are people that don't get paid, are often not thanked properly, work tireless hours, all in the name of helping someone who they will probably never meet. What makes someone give like this for nothing in return? If you really want the answer to that question, you're going to need to volunteer somewhere. Why, because everyone of these volunteers can tell you that is better to give than to receive.

So for all of you who have volunteered one or a thousand hours to Hoops of Hope, I want to say "thank you". Thank you for giving of yourself; for doing something bigger than yourself. And, just so you know, we think of you everyday :)

If you want to volunteer, just go to our website and click the volunteer tab. We'd love to have you.

Dan

Monday, August 17, 2009 @ 8:36am

School Days

It's Monday morning and you're up before your alarm goes up. You dress in your favorite new outfit and shoes, have the one healthy breakfast of the year and then pose for a picture with your new backpack and lunchbox in the same spot you have for the past several years. For many, this describes the first day of school.

For far too many though, the first day of school isn't ever a reality. There is no new outfit, shoes, breakfast or new backpack. Some don't even have the opportunity to go to school.

Education however, is the best hope to breaking out of poverty. Education is so highly valued in the Twachiyanda Region of Zambia that children walk miles to attend the Johnathan Sim Legacy School. Many children travel so far that a return trip home isn't even possible, resulting in overnight stays inside the classrooms.

This year, Hoops of Hope has partnered with World Vision to build 4 dormitories for the Johnathan Sim Legacy School. The first dorm, an all girls dorm, is very close to completion, with 3 other dorms to be opened in the near future.

Hoops of Hope is also partnering with the Revolve Tour and World Vision to provide orphan backpacks. For as little as a $25 donation, a child can be provided with a backpack, basic hygiene & school supplies, and a warm blanket.

Giving children an opportunity to stay in school by providing shelter and supplies are two ways Hoops of Hope is helping provide orphan children combat the devastating effects of poverty. Our hope is these children will one day become the leaders of their community and country, resulting in a radical transformation away from poverty, HIV/AIDS, and death.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @ 10:07pm

Take Your Best Shot

I recently read Austin Gutwein?s first book (I?m sure there are more to come), Take Your Best Shot. It tells the story of the creation of Hoops of Hope and Austin?s own heart for Africa from the time he was nine years old. The book is written for teens, so if you?re not a teen, it should be a quick read. It is filled with some great stories that Austin has experienced in the last few years while experiencing parts of the world that most of us know nothing about.

I was encouraged and again impressed by what this nine year old kid was willing to try. No matter how many times I hear the story, I am still so proud of Austin and the man that he is becoming (he?s now 15). You should check this book out, especially if you have kids. We could use a few more Austins in this world.

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
"?doing something bigger than yourself truly requires having Someone bigger than yourself inside you!"

"?those kids seeing themselves for the very first time. That?s a little funny isn?t it? Because here in America, we have the exact opposite problem. We are so used to seeing who we are on the outside that we never find out who we are on the inside."

"Doing something new that?s bigger than yourself doesn?t depend on how old you are. It depends on how available you are."

Jeremy J.

Sunday, August 9, 2009 @ 4:20pm

Simple but life changing

A few months ago, my husband Jeremy and I along with some of our friends went to a huge Christian concert here in Phoenix where we were all challenged by the bands to start living for something beyond ourselves and to begin making a difference in the world. They shared with us the impact that can be made by sponsoring just one child each month, a child in desperate need of hope. We were told that we could be the ones to bring that hope to a child and his family by just giving.

Jeremy and I decided that we wanted to be a part of this, that we wanted to make a difference in someone's life, even if this someone was across the globe, and even if this someone was someone that we might never meet. If our small monthly donation could be enough to change the life of just one person and his family, why wouldn't we want to be a part of that?

Sometimes, I think we feel that the need is just so great that there can't possibly be anything we could do to make a difference. Even if we tried to help, our efforts would be nothing more than just a drop in the bucket, right? Wrong! What Jeremy and I have begun to see through this experience is that, yes, the need is far greater than we can meet on our own, but we can change the world of one person. We can give them the hope that they need, hope that will get them through one day at a time.

This "small thing" for us has been a "huge thing" for a little boy in Tanzania that we like to call Naj.

-Cherie W.

Friday, August 7, 2009 @ 2:27pm

New Friend

I'll admit, I wasn't looking to make any "new friends" yesterday. Call me mean, selfish or whatever, it's the truth. I was on the last leg of a long day of flying. I was tired and just wanted to sit back in my chair, put on my noise-canceling headphones and get some sleep. That was before I read Andy Andrews tweet which read something like "Lord, I am traveling today. Create i me a noticer's heart so I can touch those I encounter along the way".

I decided I would give a quick "heading back to Phoenix?" question to the guy sitting next to me before turning on my headphones. His answer was a simple "yes" but the accent is what caught my attention. It was an unmistakable African accent so I probed. His name is James and he is from Sierra Leone Africa. James' story is all to common, yet all to unknown to most of the world. He fled Sierra Leone in 1992 amidst the civil war which ravaged that country. After spending 5 years in Gambia, the UN cleared the way for James and his children to head to the US. James is 45 years old and just received his associates degree. He is now studying social work at ASU and hopes to return to Sierra Leone one day.

I asked James his impression of the US after being here for the past 12 years. He simply said, "the US is truly the land of opportunity". By opportunity, James went on to say, "you can always find opportunity. Opportunity to eat, opportunity to work, opportunity to receive an education, opportunity to sleep in shelter", etc. "In Sierra Leone, it is simply survival". Each and every day James told me the people wake up with the goal to simply survive. Yet, he said, "the people in Sierra Leone are so happy. They are so close, and just enjoy life".

I also asked James about the increase in Christianity that I've seen across Africa. James told me that he has "never seen anything increase as fast as he has seen Christianity increase. Why, because when all you have is God, and you rely on God for everything, when you lay all of your hope in God, He becomes your everything"

I told James that I was going to write a few paragraphs from our talk in this blog. He asked me for the website and when I gave it to him, he was shocked. He knows of Hoops of Hope, knows of Austin and follows the difference all of you are making for the people of Africa. He said what encouragement all of you are to his people and wanted me to say thank you to you. So on behalf of my new friend, James, thank you for being a part of Hoops of Hope. And thank you Andy for encouraging me to put down my headphones and look outside my world.

Dan

Sunday, August 2, 2009 @ 12:44pm

Hoops of Hope in Guideposts Magazine

At age 9, Austin Gutwein knew he wanted to help orphans living halfway across the world.
So he did something about it.
In 2004, the Mesa, Arizona, resident had been touched by a video telling the story of African kids orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Despite his young age, he organized a fundraisersimilar to a walkathonin which he shot basketball free throws to earn $3,000 for the World Vision charity.
After this early success, Gutwein set his sights even higher. The young basketball fan organized a free throw competition called Hoops of Hope, in which anyone can take part, regardless of ability.
Each year, schools across the country organize Hoops of Hope free-throw marathons which raise money for projects across Africa. To date, more than $800,000 has been raised to build schools, medical clinics, and orphan centers, as well as providing bicycles and mosquito nets.
Austin, now 14, told CBS News that watching other children get excited about helping others through Hoops of Hope has been an inspiration.
"It's just awesome to see kids get so motivated about shooting hoops," he said. "If given the opportunity, kids will blow you away."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 @ 1:28pm

Are you doing something that's bigger than yourself?

Good morning from the dry heat of Arizona! Ive received tons of stories on how people are doing something bigger than themselves. Keep em coming! But Ive also received questions on how just one person can do something to change the world. This earth is so big and youre just one person, but you can make a difference. Heres a story I share in my new book: On December 19, 2007, in upstate Washington a customer decided that she didnt want to pay for her own drink only, but also for the car behind her, to wish the next person a Merry Christmas. The driver of the car behind her was shocked by the gesture and then he paid for the car behind him. And this went on for 1,112 cars! Seriously!

You can make a difference any minute, any hour, any day. Start small and dream big. Mother Teresa said: "If you cant feed 100 people, then feed just one." Do something bigger than yourself today, then go to Facebook and share your story. This week, were choosing one story and giving that world-changer a free t-shirt. See you on Facebook!

Sunday, July 26, 2009 @ 6:37pm

Thoughts on poverty

"I'm convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was not created by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves."-Shane Claiborne

This quote makes me stop dead in my tracks and really think. I've never thought of myself as being a contributor to poverty before, but what if this is true? How does the above statement alter my own reality? I recently finished reading Austin Gutwein's book entitled "Take Your Best Shot", to be released September 15, 2009. In the book, he shares the story of Hoops of Hope and how it all began. I couldn't help but walk away from that read completely inspired to be part of the change, not just through Hoops of Hope but to be a world changer to a world in great need. I was forced to ask myself the question, 'Am I living for myself or for something much greater?'. Have I learned to love others as I love myself? And if I have, how is it changing the world around me?

When you see someone in need, what do you do about it? When you're introduced to a cause that compels you, do you join forces with those that are making a difference in this world or do you weigh the cost? Things to think about...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 @ 1:32pm

Take Your Best Shot

"If you think making a difference is going to be any easier when you're an adult, you're mistaken. Doing something new that's bigger than yourself doesn't depend on how old you are. It depends on how available you are. If you choose to be available, God will work through you even if you are young, and even if you are just a 'regular person'."

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Friday, July 17, 2009 @ 2:51pm

Taking my best shot

Wow! I've never written so much in my life, but the new book is finished and available for pre-ordering. It's called "Take Your Best Shot" and I'm so excited to be able to share the story of Hoops of Hope and the children of Africa with you. I was able to write it with an amazing writer named Todd Hillard. Just click here if you would like to order it.

What excites me even more though, is being able to hear from you. Being able to hear what you're doing, inspires me a ton. Every day I receive emails from friends across the world who are using their passions, their talents, their unique God-given abilities to help change the world. It's amazing how something so small can turn into something big. You just have to do something! In fact, something as simple as smiling can make the day for someone. Share your stories with others by visiting the Hoops of Hope Facebook Page. You never know...you're story could help inspire someone else to change the world.

See you on Facebook!

Austin

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 @ 12:55pm

How are you going to change the world?

I recently came across a blog that asked their readers this question, "How are you going to change the world?" They had anyone and everyone take a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with a statement on how they are going to change the world. It was so inspiring to me to see people from all across the universe show how they are going to make a difference. There were responses like, "Love each one" "Smile More" "Stop Human Trafficking" "Designing and creating clothing that alleviates poverty" and "Be joyful."

I want to ask you, "How are you going to change the world?" As one small individual in this massive world, what are you going to do? Sounds intimidating... one individual in a large world. Don't be discouraged. Because what you do plus what someone else does plus another will add up to make a MASSIVE impact. We can't do everything, but we can all do something. And each little bit helps.

My response would be, "Love with no exceptions" That means that no matter what race, economic status, or personality type someone is, I will choose to love them. No matter what things they've done, I must love. No matter how dorky they are or how arrogant, I will love. There should be no exceptions in love.

So we ask you, "How are you going to change the world?" We'd love to hear your ideas so please reply to this post and begin changing the world.

(This idea came from the I-Heart blog. To see some of the photos from their post, click here)

Tara K.

Monday, July 13, 2009 @ 11:01am

They never even see what they look like

The first time my dad and I went to Africa, we would bounce down these endlessly long dusty roads in trucks. Every time we would stop for water or fuel, tons of kids would gather around to figure out who the strangers were. I wasn't just a stranger-to them, with my super fair skin, red hair, and freckles, I was just plain strange! I was as different to them as Africa was to me. For fun, my dad would take his camera and snap a picture of the kids and then turn the camera around so they could see themselves. Click. Click. Click. These kids loved it. Pretty soon there would be a big line of kids waiting to get their picture taken. What was the big deal about this?! One of the World Vision workers told us that most of the kids had never seen what they look like.

-Austin Gutwein

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Thursday, July 9, 2009 @ 12:36pm

Bumps for OCC

We came across an article about a 12 year old girl from Florida who was so inspired by Austin and the Hoops of Hope story that she decided to set up her very own charity volleyball tournament, Bumps for OCC, to help kids have a better Christmas this year. We are so proud of her and would like to share this excellent article that sheds light on her story.

Please take a moment to read the article here.

Thanks Torii for stepping up to make a difference for others in this world. Good luck and have fun at your tournament!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 @ 10:53am

The stuff that expires

It's time to quit buying. No, I don't mean we have to quit buying things, but we need to stop buying into the idea that things that expire are more important than the things that do not expire. Don't let that idea pass you by. It's seriously important because, to be honest, the stuff that expires doesn't satisfy anyway. I mean, do things ever really make you feel good in the long run? No, they don't. Most of the time they just fuel your hunger for more-a better cell phone, more shoes, the latest gaming system...it never ends.

-Austin Gutwein


Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Monday, July 6, 2009 @ 1:27pm

I'm happy because I'm still alive

I received an email from my sponsor child, Naomi, this past week and was heartbroken by some of the things she wrote. One of the first statements she said after her greeting was, "I am very happy because I am still alive." The heart of a young girl in Kenya: "I'm happy to still be alive." I imagine she wakes up every single morning with this grateful attitude, but I can't imagine the circumstances that bring her to say this phrase. It breaks my heart to think of the way she lives, yet I'm almost jealous of it.

The thing is, she truly IS happy. She is so grateful for the life she's been given. Though she doesn't have an ipod, a queen sized bed, or a shopping mall down the road, she is utterly happy and grateful. She finds joy in her friendships, her school, and the fact that she woke up this morning to enjoy another day. Naomi's letter humbled me in many ways. She has taught me that I should be grateful for being able to open my eyes each morning and live a new day. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so many material things, because I know it distracts me. Our culture tells us that we must have more to be happy. Although, what I've learned from traveling to Kenya and seeing the lives of people there, is that you can have less and even be happier than the richest man in America.

Tara K.


Friday, July 3, 2009 @ 11:44am

Maggie

I couldn't stop staring at the TV screen. The story was really scaring me, and the little girl...it was awful. She was in a place that was completely foreign to me. I had never seen anything like it. The landscape was beautiful, but everything else just seemed horrible. My dad had just put a DVD into the player. It was only four minutes long, but they were four minutes of the most powerful images I had ever seen, and it was the most powerful story I had ever heard. Pictures of the little girl and her life flooded our family room, like Africa was pulled right into our house through the television. I could see it. I could almost touch it. I could definitely feel it. Minute by minute, my life was being changed forever.

The little girl's name was Maggie. She and I were both nine years old when we met through the TV screen, but she had already experienced a lifetime of tragedy. She lives in Zambia, and she had lost the most important people in her life- her mother, her father, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents... even her little brother. They had all died of AIDS.

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Monday, June 29, 2009 @ 12:35pm

A Soul Generated by Love

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr


This quote really hits home for me. Sometimes I think, well I just need to do "this" first, then I can help others. I need to go to school and grow up first, then I can do something for someone else. I think we all have these thoughts. But, forget waiting. The time is now. Whatever age, race, or gender you are, you can do.....something. Go out and serve someone and see what happens. Serve them with your whole heart. Give them all you have and see how their world and your world changes. Remember, don't wait. The time is NOW. You don't need to be smart, rich, old, or outgoing to serve. All you need is love. A heart that desires to make a change. A heart that longs to do something bigger than themselves. Even the most inadequate, young, and quiet person can make a difference. Trust me. Don't let anything hold you back. Go out and serve with a heart full of love.


TK

Monday, June 22, 2009 @ 2:17pm

Take Your Best Shot

The world is in great need, and something has to be done. So ask yourself two important questions: Do I want to be a part of the solution? And am I ready to take my best shot? (If you can't answer "yes" to those questions right now, that's okay; keep reading.) We know that we are the ones who can and should be doing something bigger than ourselves, and we know that these things can and should be done now. But that still leaves one bigger question: How? How do we do this?

That is why I want to share my story. There's a pattern that I've seen in my own life and in the lives of those around me who are becoming world-changers. The group grows every time someone decides to help another person, but it doesn't start outside. It starts inside. Inside the heart, inside the mind, inside the soul. It's an inner journey that changes the outward life.


Today's blog contains an excerpt from Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Thursday, June 4, 2009 @ 1:32pm

Zambia: March 2009

Austin and a team from Hoops of Hope and World Vision got the opportunity to visit Zambia where the new medical clinic was dedicated. Here are some stories from the trip-

Words don't even describe it. Today we got to visit with a patient from the medical clinc in Zambia. Her name was Media and was 27 years old. She had AIDs and her 3 month baby also had it. They were both on ARVs. Media explained how the clinic would allow her to get her required check up. She said that before the clinic was built, she would have to take a ride to a nearby town to get the check up. But it would cost her 40,000 kawatcha which is about $8. She said one time she only had 20,000 so she was stuck for a whole day. Now because of the clinic, she would be able to walk a short distance to get treatment. That is so cool to hear. It was such a joy to see this woman so happy because she could now just walk to get help.

Next, we traveled to an OVC kids house. The family was a widow and her three kids.

The mom had no real source of income. She would pull weeds when she could. That only paid 10,000 kawatcha which is $2. The family lived on $2 for a month. That's all they would get. By this time, the family had not eaten in 2 days. Wow, that was real poverty. The kids had their only clothes on. But, the joy they had through their pain was incredible. They were happy even though they literally had nothing. We gave them a soccer ball and then headed back. The kids were incredibly happy. It was so cool. Being back at the lodge tonight and hearing similar stories from the rest of the team was inspiring. Everyone came back different. I got my speech done for the clinic dedication. It isn't much of a speech to do justice of what God has done here. I cannot wait for tomorrow.


Austin

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 @ 1:49pm

Waiting for this day for 7 years

Austin got the opportunity to meet his sponsor child of 7 years in Uganda this past March. Here are his thoughts of first meeting the boy he'll never forget:

Very few people ever get to meet their sponsor child and as a matter of fact not many even get the chance to sponsor one. Yesterday was a day beyond words. I know that for 7 years I have dreamed of that day. A day when I got to touch the hands of someone I knew but had never seen. Driving that morning was very exciting. Being there in Uganda but, never knowing when I would get to actually meet Ignatious. My heart was pounding with joy as we left the hotel in the morning. We made about an hour drive to the ADP office. Everyone slept in the car. Everyone but me. I could not. I described it as a little kid on Christmas Eve just waiting till the morning. What was on that path would change our family's life forever. We drove maybe about another hour down a bumpy dirt road. We thought that we were going to go to Ignatious' house first but when we stopped the van we could tell it wasn't his house. I got out and greeted a little boy and asked him if he was Ignatious. He looked at me funny and then ran off.

A girl came out in a dress. She greeted us. Then we got it. The girl was Brittany's (my sister) sponsor child. We talked and they exchanged gifts. I will never forget how shy Britt and Scovia (her sponsor child) were. They seemed to just hug each other, a lot. Brittany just wore a huge smile and you could tell both were extremely happy.

After visiting a school and playing soccer with the kids, we drove back onto the dirt road. The very first house we pulled into there stood the person I had waited for 7 years to meet. Ignatious. He was dressed in a suit and on top of the suit was the traditional tribal clothing. His dad first walked to me and said, "you must be Austin?" We were all shocked at his English. Next I turned and squeezed Ignatious. We were both overwhelmed with joy. Then we met his mom, sister, and grandma. We went inside and talked forever. Using a translator, I told Ignatious and his family about when I first sponsored him.

Then I told them about Hoops of Hope and how I think it was because of Ignatious. They all were pretty excited. We asked the dad how he knew me. Ignatious pulled out a letter and a picture of a boy with a ton of freckles. The picture was of me was from when I was seven. It was crazy that they had kept it for so long. Then Ignatious gave me a letter he had written to me. I cried as I read it aloud. Next we proceeded to exchange gifts. I gave him clothing, a soccer ball, and a blanket. He got so happy. Then he gave me a handmade soccer ball, homemade water jugs, homemade purses and lots of fruit! We then went outside and tried what was called a jackfruit. They don't have that back home. It was sweet and chewy almost like a mango. It was really good though. Then they had me try a passion fruit. That was not my favorite at all. It was just like slimy seeds. Fortunately I did not have to try the banana. Then we played soccer forever! We also gave him a Frisbee and taught him how to play. His dad talked a lot about sponsorship and how it had moved them into this house and bought pigs and chickens. I asked Ignatious if I could help him get water. We walked and got some. As we walked kids would point and laugh. I asked him why and he said, "Most kids never get to meet their sponsor so they are laughing because they are so happy for me." That was so sweet.

As we pumped the water I would never forget how big the smiles he would get from me being there. After a little more Frisbee and soccer it was time to say goodbye. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was so cool just to be able to spend a day with him. I will never forget him. Most people don't get that chance, but it was and will always be the best day of my life.


Monday, June 1, 2009 @ 12:18pm

Key Club at Dysart High School Event

The Key Club (student-led organization that teaches leadership through serving others) at Dysart High School in El Mirage, AZ recently hosted a Hoops of Hope event and created an amazing video that captures the experience of individual students from the event. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and allow it to motivate you.

To watch the video, click on this link: http://keyclub.watchourvideos.com/story/84/

We are very proud of them. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this event!!

Friday, May 29, 2009 @ 12:27pm

Rwanda Journal Entry #5

After visiting the child headed house, we went to a house that grew mushrooms. They showed us the small cash crop that was completely new to the nation. The prime minister had come to see it. We went back and ate lunch then traveled to the school. As we were on our way we came to a truck that had broken down in the dead center of the one-way road. I went with our translator on a dirt bike to the school to let the people know we were coming, but would be a bit late. The rest of the team started to

walk the 20 minutes to the school. When we all arrived the people were all lined up and the kids were seated. They sat us down and the same little girls from the other day danced again. I felt so welcome and taken back by it. They sang the national anthem of Rwanda. Everyone was on key and it sounded almost perfect. Then they sang two more songs that were just wonderful. After singing, the kids acted out skits and then showed us the school. We went into a meeting with the teachers and then I got the opportunity to play basketball with one of the boys. When it was time to go, I gave him a Fanta. He smiled from cheek to cheek, took a sip then gave it back. I guess he didn't know it was for him to keep. When we told him it was his he got so excited. He walked off into the sunset with his joy so big. What I've learned is that giving is so much better than receiving.
Austin

This concludes the trip to Rwanda. Beginning next week, we will post stories from Austin's next stop-Uganda.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 @ 2:49pm

Humility in the heart of a child

Six year old Makenna watched a video called "Attitude of Gratitude" at her school last week and it gave her the desire to help change lives. With such excitement from the video she saw, Makenna went home that day and began to clean out her closet. She picked out all of her favorite toys and told her mom she wanted to send them all off to the school in Africa that she heard about on the video. That school was the one Hoops of Hope built in Zambia, so Makenna's mom contacted us with her story. We were blown away by the fact that a six year old girl not only felt compassion for the children in Africa, but that she acted upon it. And she didn't just pick out all the old toys she doesn't play with anymore.... she chose the ones she loves. The ones she enjoys playing with... her favorites. I can't imagine how a six year old would be willing to give up what they love the most to bring smiles to the faces of kids they may never meet. To be honest, I sometimes have a hard time even sharing my food or giving up Starbucks for a week! Makenna's humility and her passion to help kids across the world has inspired me. She has inspired our team. And I hope she inspires you too.

Thank you Makenna for helping us to give children in Africa a brighter future. We love your kindness!

Monday, May 25, 2009 @ 11:45am

Rwanda Journal Entry #4

March 6th, 2009
The next day we first drove to the child headed household. It was just a home down from the caregiver house. The kids remembered us and held out their hands saying "mamba" which is a type of candy. We stepped inside and there were three children. They all were seated on a bench. The kids told us their story. Their dad had died early on and the mom was put in prison. They said they did not know why she was put there or if she was even still alive. That is something nobody should ever ever have to face. They said that the only way that they were able to survive was because the 8-year-old child was sponsored through World Vision. The oldest had to stay home every day cooking and cleaning. They had to live off of the money donated through World Vision. The money helped to build them a small hut. Before having a home, they lived under a tree. I can't even imagine the life they have lived. What was cool is we got to walk up the hill to get them water. With the water, I got to wash their feet. They loved it so much. Then we passed out "mamba" to the kids. They went crazy! It was such a joy to see these kids so happy.

Austin

Friday, May 22, 2009 @ 12:05pm

Rwanda Journal Entry #3

March 5th continued: Rwanda

Next we went to the OVC club. (Orphans and Vulnerable Children.) We were by now high in the mountains and the rain had just stopped. Tons of kids had ran over to our cars through the mud. They ran to greet us. One child I remembered was a boy with a hand carved wooden scooter. It was definitely his prized possession. He used it and rode it really well. It was so amazing that he was so happy about his little scooter. He was the popular kid.

They then took us under an overhanging so if it rained we wouldn't be outside. All the children from the school across the way came running to see the presentation. The presentation began with a very booming drum and from behind the building dancers appeared. They were young little girls who had bells on their feet. They sang as they danced to the music. More kids kept running and crowding around in a circle.









Then a boy got up and read a poem about AIDs and how they needed protection. It was sad how big of an affect AIDs had on this community. The dancers got up to sing one last song when it started to rain very heavily. They were about halfway through the song when the sky tore open. It wasn't just a small sprinkle but a downpour..some of the most intense rain I've ever seen. It didn't hinder these little girls though. They ran under the overhang with us and continued to dance. About 200 kids were watching the dancers and the speakers.

When the program ended, we got to interact and ride out the storm. The kids crowded around us. It was pretty cool to give them high fives and stuff. We didn't know what to do so we sang with them. We sang "joy in my heart", "this little light of mine", "bingo" and "Rudolf the red nose reindeer." The last two were mine but the kids loved it. The rain still hadn't stopped and we had to get into the car. We left and even through the muddy, heavy rain the kids chased our car. Then we drove back to the hotel that I am at now for the night.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 @ 12:05pm

Rwanda Journal Entry #2

Listen to this incredible story of a caregiver that Austin got to meet while in Rwanda. This is the same day as the previous blog entry.

March 5th continued-Rwanda

Next, we went to visit a caregiver. Her name was "Ahora". She was at a house to help someone and we came in to hear her story. The lady whose house we were in was "Agnus". They were both HIV positive. The lady had a child in her arm who was fast asleep. Ahora showed us all the things she did to take care of these sick people. Next, she shared her story. Wow! That was tough! She had 200 family members and relatives before the genocide. All had died except her. She was also raped during the genocide and that was how she got AIDs. Soon, people found her and put her on ARV's. Everyone thought it was too late. The doctors would tell her she was going to die. She proved everyone wrong and was able to recover. She also very quickly forgave and began her work as a caregiver. She now has given her life to help those who have AIDs.

















Some of the women of Rwanda who represent stories like this

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 @ 9:19am

The Humanitarian IQ

Our team came across an interesting quiz posted by NEED Magazine called "The Humanitarian IQ." It's an incredibly eye-opening quiz that will test your knowledge of global issues the world is facing today. The test will reveal just how much you know about the AIDS crisis, global poverty, clean water, and human rights. We hope it will inspire you to instigate change in this world. Maybe we, individually, can't change the whole planet but if all of us do something, then together we just might surprise the world. Go ahead- take the quiz, see what you score, think of a way that you can help out, then go out and take action.

Click this link to be directed to the quiz: http://www.humanitarianiq.com/

Friday, May 15, 2009 @ 11:25am

Rwanda Journal Entry #1

We apologize for the long delay. In March 2009, Austin was able to travel to Rwanda with the Revolve team. The next few posts will be personal journal entries from his trip. To begin, here is the first entry.

Rwanda March 5, 2009

Today we had the amazing chance to go out into the field in Rwanda. First we went to the ADP office and listened to the director speak about the ADP. He talked a lot about sponsorship. One of the interesting things was about how they only do one child per family for sponsorship. He talked about how the people were very nice and kind but were struggling to survive. Next we walked back outside and into the trucks. We drove out and at the school across the street the kids started yelling "imuzungu" which means "white person". It was sweet. We drove to a house where these kids were backing bread. They had started their own organization to make an income. But, they were actually orphans. It was their way of taking care of their younger siblings. It was neat to see that they found a way even through their hardships.


Austin

Monday, May 11, 2009 @ 2:06pm

Pay it Forward

If you've ever seen the movie "Pay it Forward" you know it's about a young boy who decides to help change the world a little at a time through a process called 'pay it forward.' It's the idea of doing something for someone in hopes that they will pay it forward to three more people, which begins a chain reaction. Now I'm not going to talk about or give away the movie, but I want to linger on this idea of paying it forward. Have you ever heard of someone paying for the person behind them in the drive-thru at Starbucks? Then each person following keeps it going and it becomes a day long thing? That is an exact example of paying it forward. What if, instead of paying someone back for a favor they provide, we paid it forward? Could the world change?

Try it this week. Start simple. When you're out, why not smile at someone you normally wouldn't even look at? Or how about randomly giving someone a gift, then asking them to pay it forward. Or go for the Starbucks idea and pay for the person behind you in a drive-thru. We may not see the results each one of these can have, but I guarantee it will prompt others to be generous and 'pay it forward.' It's been said that a smile is contagious. Just think about how one smile given to someone can travel around your city from person to person the entire day. Just because we may not see the impact one small act can make doesn't mean it's not worth it. Show an act of kindness this week and let the world flow with it. See how the atmosphere of your day can change. From my experience, I can assure that not only will the person on the receiving end will be blessed, but you will too.

Tara K.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 @ 2:41pm

Event in Greensboro, NC

Another article from a great event that happened this past weekend in Greensboro, NC. Great job guys!

Click here to read the article.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 @ 2:21pm

Event in Marshall, MN

Check out this article about two young girls who set up a Hoops of Hope event in their community. It was an incredible event and we're so proud of them!

Click here to read the article

Friday, April 24, 2009 @ 10:06pm

Florida

We're heading to Florida this weekend for the Florida Student Council Convention.  Hope to see you there!

austin

Thursday, April 23, 2009 @ 12:43pm

There's a Need and We're Going to Meet It

Since we have now been able to fully fund the medical clinic in Zambia, we are working on two new projects. First, our goal is to raise funds in order to build dorms which will house nearly 300 students at the Jonathan Sim Legacy School in Twachiyanda. We've found that the distance these children have to walk to get to school every day is so demanding that they have begun to sleep in the school buildings. The solution to this problem is to build housing at the school so they have a bed to sleep on and feet that won't wear from walking long distances. The other project we're working towards is funding 14 Orphan Hope Centers in Swaziland. Each center will consist of a safe, three-room facility that will be used for teaching, cooking, counseling, and organized activities and sports. The centers will also offer health care, life-skills education, training in gardening and animal husbandry, after-school activities, and nonformal education. In addition, the project will provide clean water, latrines, and improved sanitation to each of the Hope Centers. Children's lives will be radically changed by these projects!!

With your help, we can make this happen. The Hoops of Hope team has been blown away by the passion, dedication, and generosity of each participant and donor this year. We thank everyone and ask for your continued prayers and support as we jump into these projects. With the help of kids and adults across the world, we've been able to meet each of our goals in the past. I believe, without a doubt, that we can do the same this year. It just takes a little bit of help from a lot of people and we can all play a part.

Tara

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 @ 10:13am

Commonwealth Connections Academy Event

Check out this article from a recent event that happened in Lehighton, PA


By GAIL MAHOLICK gmaholick@tnonline.com


Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Chris Herbert, 12, of Gilbert, a Commonwealth Connections Academy student, prepares for a free throw during the Hoops of Hope event held recently at the Lehighton Middle School.

Commonwealth Connections Academy students recently played a game of basketball against their teachers and the winner was Hoops of Hope. The game was played at the Lehighton Area Middle School.

Hoops of Hope is a shoot-a-thon where participants take pledges for shots. The goal of Hoops for Hope is to raise awareness and funds for children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Zambia, Africa.

All funds raised through free throw marathons go directly to World Vision's Hope Initiative which targets care for orphan children in highly affected areas. Free throws represent the thousands of children orphaned each day and will raise money to build a second medical lab in Chilala, Zambia.

The $1,000 raised by the students who live in the local area, but take classes via the Internet will be used to help build a school and medical facility in Zambia.

Hoops of Hope was started by Austin, 15-year-old boy who wanted to help AIDS orphans in Africa. Austin was 10 years old when he started the event, which grew and grew and the annual basketball shoot-a-thon now has three national event dates.

Douglas Miedel, school outreach coordinator, Commonwealth Connections Academy, said that 14 students and 17 staff members took part in the event.

Six of the students had pledges of $100, plus there was a basket raffle and students and staff vied to win a basket worth $80.

Players paid $5 a shot to win the basket. A young student won the prize. Plus Miedel noted that Commonwealth Connections Academy donated $500 toward the cause.

"It was great for the children because they got to meet their teachers face-to-face, many for the first time," said Kim Evans, local community coordinator.

__________________________________________________________

Great job students of Commonwealth Connections Academy! We appreciate your help in changing lives of children in Africa.

Thursday, April 16, 2009 @ 10:15am

Good News

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for bearing with us these past few weeks as the Hoops of Hope team settles down from their trip to Zambia. I'm sure you're anxiously waiting to hear stories. Well, I have good news for you! Beginning this week, we will post excerpts of Austin's journal from his trip. The goal is to pull you into each story as we capture the ambience of Africa through Austin's written words. We invite you to join us in being a part of the journey as you virtually encounter each page.

Be on the lookout this week for the first journal entry!

Tara

Friday, March 27, 2009 @ 2:40pm

Sinazongwe Medical Clinic

Check out footage of the new medical clinic in Sinazongwe, Zambia. With the help of you and thousands of other Hoops of Hope participants, we were able to fund this clinic and open it in March of this year. We were told it would save an entire generation!! Thank you for your passion and heart to help these children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. They will truly have a brighter future.

P.S. Stories and photos to come soon so check back later!

Thursday, March 5, 2009 @ 2:49pm

Africa Trip Update

Hi everyone, Just quick update on the trip. Austin left for Rwanda on Monday, March 2nd. He'll be spending time in Rwanda, Uganda, Doha and then in Zambia. I've heard some great stories so far and can't wait to share them with you. Thank you for your prayers!

Dan

Thursday, February 26, 2009 @ 3:52pm

Not just orphaned, but completely homeless too

Read this excerpt from an article I found from the Global Health Reporting site: (January 30th, 2009)

The United Nations and other international aid agencies estimate that many of the 1.5 million AIDS orphans in Zambia by 2010 will be homeless, the Inter Press Service reports. However, the government has disputed the extent of the situation, and Zambia's Central Statistical Office estimates that the number of orphans and vulnerable children in 2007 was about 85,000. The Inter Press Service reports that while the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia "cuts a wide path through the population," the number of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children will continue to increase.


This means that in one year from now, several thousands of AIDS orphans, in Zambia alone, will be homeless. No family, no shelter, no food, no friends... 12, 8, 5, even 2 year olds out on the streets...alone...with nowhere to go. The number of orphans is going up. We must do something.


Tara K.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 @ 4:07pm

A smile...
is the only thing that can be understood in any language

Friday, February 13, 2009 @ 12:27pm

Kids Say the Smartest Things


What if we thought about life and God like children do? I think the world would be a different place. Check out a few things children say:

Dear GOD,
Why is Sunday school on Sunday? I thought it was supposed to be our day of rest. -Tom L.

Dear GOD,
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. -Larry


Dear GOD,
I think about You sometimes even when I'm not praying. -Elliott


Dear GOD,
We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said You did it. So I bet he stoled your idea. Sincerely, Donna


Dear GOD:
The bad people laughed at Noah - "You made an ark on dry land you fool." But he was smart, he stuck with You. That's what I would do. -Eddie


Dear GOD,
I do not think anybody could be a better GOD. Well, I just want You to know but I am not just saying that because You are GOD already. -Charles


Dear GOD,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool! -DJ

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"
GLENN: K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.


TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE: I is...
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE: All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

Just a little reminder to think about the simple things in life :)

Tara K.

Thursday, February 5, 2009 @ 8:12pm

Revolve Tour NC and Oklahoma

Its been a busy couple of weeks. The past two weekends we have gone to Greensboro, North Carolina and Oklahoma City on the Revolve Tour. Over the past two weeks we have had over 500 Revolve girls sign up! Way to go girls! I think it is so cool to see teens get excited about making a difference. Remember that you can be the example to everyone around you, including adults. This weekend we are off to sunny Orlando Florida! Unfortunately we aren't making a pit stop at Disney World. But, we do get hangout with so more Revolve Tour girls who are ready to change the world. Go Orlando!

In Him,

austin

Thursday, January 22, 2009 @ 7:41pm

High School Basketball Team Smiles at 100-0 Loss

The final score of the high school girls basketball game was 100-0, and his team had the nothing. Still, a week later, Dallas Academy Athletic Director Jeremy Civello was chalking up the game in the win column.

"My girls never quit," he said. "They played as hard as they could to the very end. They played with all their hearts at 70-nothing, 80-nothing and 100-nothing. I was really proud of them. That's what I told them after the game."

This is a true story. In fact, the high school girls basketball team at Dallas Academy has never won a game in the last four seasons of Coach Civello's career at this school, which is famous for its work with students who have learning disabilities.

Can you
imagine being in their position?

Picture it...you've only been playing basketball for maybe two years. And here you are at a game against an incredible team. As you play, it hits you that your team hasn't scored one point. Then you look at the scoreboard and realize your opponent has already scored 60 points. 60-0. The crowd is cheering like crazy because you're playing at the other teams' home court. Then you realize that every time you get the ball... two seconds later, the other team has it already down at the other end of the court in the hoop.

It seems like a sad story, until you realize that these girls kept a smile on their face until the end of the game. And not only that, but they played with all of their hearts. I don't know about you, but it would be heartbreaking and humiliating for me. I probably would've wanted to give up at 40-0. Yet, here are these girls, in high school, who have the courage and the selflessness and the humility to be able to play the game with their whole heart and smile when they see the score of 100-0.

To read more or to watch the news footage, click HERE

I hope this inspires you as much as it does me... Tara K.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 @ 3:25pm

Miracles

Do you believe in miracles? I am honestly just as surprised as everyone else sitting in front of their tv with their jaw on the floor. I can't believe that the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl. Wow miracles do happen. I think I just became a Cardinals fan.

In Him,

 Austin

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