DU Men’s Basketball Team Gives Back to Community
With the arrival at DU of men’s basketball coach Rodney Billups comes a renewed emphasis on giving back to the Denver community.
“Being from the city of Denver, it’s really important that I get out into the community and help do as much as I can,” says Billups. “And it’s only right that I bring the guys with me.”
Before the start of the season, the team spent an afternoon volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center. They helped prepare dinner for the 400–500 people expected in the dining room that evening.
“It’s huge for us to have groups from the community, especially a group like the DU basketball team,” says Alexxa Gagner, director of public relations for the Denver Rescue Mission. “Just having them give their time back and showing people in the community and our guests that they care is huge.”
Since opening last November, the Lawrence Street Community Center has served men, women and children experiencing poverty and homelessness in the Denver metro area. On average, 1,300 meals are served daily.
“There’s such a huge problem around the country with homelessness, and this is just our way of giving back and saying, ‘we recognize the problem and how can we help,’” Billups says.
On Jan. 25, 2016, the Denver Rescue Mission conducted its annual Point-In-Time (PIT) survey to provide a snapshot of the homeless population. It determined there were 5,467 homeless men, women and children in the seven-county metro area. A troubling 53.4 percent of that population had been homeless for one year or more.
“This is a really good opportunity to give back to the community and realize how fortunate we are that we get to go to a school like DU,” says sophomore guard Thomas Neff. “We are just trying to give them a good meal tonight and help them out a little bit.”
For senior guard Josiah Dunn, this is the first time he has had the opportunity to volunteer with a team.
“We are really trying to show that we are committed to this community, and we really want to give back as much as it’s given to us,” Dunn says. “I think it speaks a lot to the character of our coaches that they are setting up these events for us.”