The seemingly unrelated fields of sports and humanitarianism share at least three traits: sacrifice, heart, and teamwork. The Whitman College men's basketball team discovered and proved this on Thursday morning when performing community service at the HopeTree Family Services in Salem, Virginia, in between practices for their Final Four showdown today against Babson College at the Salem Civic Center.
The squad played Bunco, colored, completed puzzles and Wii bowled with about 15 adults with intellectual disabilities. The hourlong exchange occurred at the day support unit of the nonprofit, faith-based, human services agency's developmental disabilities ministry. Its 17 sites across the state enable nearly 100 men and women to lead the fullest lives possible.
"The visit serves a dual purpose," said Mark Early, director of communications for HopeTree. "It provides extra socialization opportunities for our residents. And it provides an opportunity for the players to interact with this segment of the population in the hopes that they'll become aware of future volunteer opportunities when they get home."
HopeTree, which also helps at-risk students and youth, was founded in 1890. Its developmental disabilities ministry opened in the early 1990s. The facility, headquartered in Salem, is an annual stop for Final Four competitors.