The Harbor Impact Foundation looking to change lives through sports with charity event

NOW: The Harbor Impact Foundation looking to change lives through sports with charity event

BENTON HARBOR, Mich -- As gun violence continues to harm communities, leaders of Benton Harbor are changing lives through sports by bringing basketball and future opportunities to the youth.

The gun violence has become normal in areas such as Benton Harbor.

The city experienced a deadly mass shooting outside a nightclub last month that killed a 19-year-old college student.

The charity basketball tournament held here over the weekend by Harbor Impact, could help spur positive changes for young people.

“Right now, it’s mostly about showing people that Benton Harbor is bigger than what they actually know it is and basically bringing people into the city to understand what Benton Harbor actually is,” said Rodney Alexander, Harbor Impact Founder.

Alexander, the former professional basketball player and Benton Harbor Tiger standout, started the foundation this year.

The end goal is to give young people from all walks of life, in and around Benton Harbor, a safe indoor place to come together, learn the game of basketball and get to know each other, peacefully.

“I’m on the board at the Harbor Impact Foundation and what Rodney and his team are doing, are bringing kids together from different communities. From Benton Harbor, Saint Joe, Stevensville, Coloma, Niles, South Haven,” said Brian Conybeare, a Harbor Impact Foundation board member.

The first ever Harbor Impact Foundation basketball tournament, held Saturday at Union Park, helped the non-profit raise nearly $20,000.

The money will go toward building a state of the art indoor sports facility, with six basketball courts in phase one. Eventually expanding to volleyball, soccer, football and a full indoor track open to the entire community and perhaps even more. More importantly, providing homework help, college prep courses, and mental health treatment.

“Our youth don’t have bigger fields, we don’t have bigger gyms. So when it’s time we can all play a part in doing it, I’m glad to see the collaboration,” said Benton Harbor Mayor Pro-Tem Duane Seats.

“I actually grew up playing in this park right here. I actually played baseball and actually played basketball right here as well,” said Alexander.

Alexander already has 17 AAU teams, training nearly 400 boys and girls from kindergarten to the 12th grade, in a small gym on Jennings Avenue. Bringing kids together through a shared love of sports and putting their differences aside at the door. Some already earning free college tuition because of their sports skills.

“We want to get kids as good as they can be at basketball, to send them out into the world, get college scholarships, and come back home and be productive citizens in Benton Harbor,” said Conybeare.

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