Why A Free Sports Program with an Educational Touch?
Words from Willie Hutch Jones, Co-Founder of WHJESP
I often get asked “Why are you still giving a free Sports Clinic after 29 years?” and I follow with this unselfish response – In 1984 as I was completing my Professional NBA experience with the Los Angeles Lakers, but still playing basketball in the European Pro League, I felt a strong urgency to provide a positive service to my own community. There were so many youth that would never have an opportunity to get out of their communities unless they had strong positive influences and special training. So, armed with my Physical Education degree from Vanderbilt University, I decided to launch a youth training program with help from good friends LeRoi Johnson and Bernard Mitchell. For the first few years this program was funded entirely out of my own pocket. We set out to impact the youth of Buffalo of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Our goal was to serve the underserved – those who would not normally have access to this type of program. Because basketball is a tool that attracts youth, once they showed interest in the program, we began to uplift them with knowledge and self-esteem, which are known attributes to reduce juvenile delinquency. And the program was a success!
As the clinic grew I had to grow, by obtaining a Masters Degree in Sports Administration from Wayne State University and incorporating the Clinic as a 501 c3 not–for-profit organization. With exponential growth, we now offer a year round program with over a dozen sports clinics, academic enhancement, foreign language studies, performance arts, competitive chess, soccer and science clubs, and workshops to enhance social and personal development.
Currently, I teach and coach in the Buffalo Public School System and still reaching out to children in need. Within the last few years I’ve been honored with the Father Baker Award, Black Achievers in Industry Award, Westside Rowing Club Community Services Award, Buffalo Masters Outstanding Contributor Award, The National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York Award, inducted into the Buffalo Inner City Athletic Educational Association Hall of Fame, and received the key to the City naming January 22, as Willie Hutch Jones Day!
As you browse through the pages, you will see the expansion of the program, our many contributions to the community, collaborations with like-minded organizations that generously support us, and how you can help. We have taken major strides in our 28 years of community service to always keep the program FREE of charge, but we still need your financial support for our continued success.
Willie Hutch Jones
I had a strong feeling of providing a positive service to my own community, because there were so many other youth that would never have an opportunity to get out of the area unless they had strong positive influences and special training.
Get in touch
If you are an individual or company that has this kind of community services at heart, please contact our program coordinator so that we can continue to bring joy to those who don’t have. Also if you are an individual or agency in need, contact us so that you can be a recipient of our love.
Mykia LaNae Program Coordinator
Lindsay Lampert Program Coordinator
411 Olympic Street
Buffalo, NY 14215