Wednesday, March 14, 2012

LEMO Foundation

LEMO Foundation

  I've made the importance of athletics in shaping my life no secret. Without basketball, my life would be on a vastly different course. I wouldn't be living in Europe; seeing its sights, experiencing its cultures, and playing the game I love, all while getting paid to do it.

  My road here has had many twists and turns. Maybe without just one of those twists, my journey would have led me to a different destination.

  Everything, for me, started with a solid foundation. My parents, my schooling, and my coaches and mentors, all helped me along the way. But what if I didn't have that foundation? Or what if I was missing one key piece? Then what? Would I have earned a Division I scholarship, leading to a career as a professional overseas?

  I've always thought that every kid should have the opportunities I have been lucky enough to have, no matter their background, and no matter where they grow up.

  A longtime friend of mine, Allison Magner, has recently gotten involved with the development and growth of a non-profit organization based in the Bay Area. LEMO Foundation is exactly the kind of community that would have come in handy, had my foundation developed cracks in it as a teenager.

  The founders of LEMO, Ali and David Taufoou, wanted their organization to be like no other: based on a family atmosphere. Not just a place where kids could receive academic tutoring, or only athletic coaching.

LEMO Playmakers!
  LEMO focuses on the development of kids (or playmakers, as they call them) as people, as students, AND as athletes. They want 'to empower high school students to strive for greatness and to become responsible, compassionate leaders.' 

  They help develop the skills necessary to become a successful student: organizational, time management, and study skills. SAT preparation is also provided, along with NCAA Clearing House guidance (a must if you want to compete at the collegiate level). 

  LEMO provides a family atmosphere that serves as a safety net for kids if their home-life doesn't provide the support they need. As mentors, earning the trust of, and showing commitment to each and every kid, is essential.

  Obviously the athletic training is what brings it all together. Sport is the common denominator for the playmakers at LEMO, and the motivator for many kids throughout the US. By using that interest in sport, and commitment to becoming a better athlete, LEMO (and organizations like it) has the platform to develop the leaders of the future. Athletically, LEMO promotes all sports, but specialties lie mostly in volleyball and football at this time.

The Foundry
  Maybe the most important thing, is that LEMO provides ONE place where all this can happen.  Every facet of LEMO is operated at The Foundry. Whether it's for a workout, study hall, a tutoring session, or practice, the kids at LEMO rely on the cream of the crop facility for everything. 

  Gym time and access to academic facilities can always a stumbling block when developing organizations like LEMO. Matt Krebs has been generous enough to partner with LEMO to allow The Foundry to serve as LEMO Headquarters.

  As part of their mission statement, and vision, the LEMO Foundation will continue to search for ways to "strongly focus on and help guide the spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of each individual that we serve - Liahona 'the Compass' of LeMo. Success is defined differently for each individual, but LeMo offers every avenue for our youth to reach that path according to their specific goals - Motu 'the Rock' of LeMo."

  LEMO might not be for everyone. The commitment has to be there from the playmakers themselves, and not just in one area. Just because you're involved with a great organization, doesn't mean you no longer have to work. The coaches and mentors will not pull anyone along.

  Surely there are organizations like LEMO all over the country. But from my experience it's difficult to weed through the countless after-school programs that may have various motivations. To me, these organizations should have one thing in mind: put the kids' best interests first -- no matter what.

Fellowship at LEMO
  What's amazing about LEMO is that the kids don't pay a thing. Through sponsorships, donations, and volunteers, playmakers are provided with an incredible opportunity without having to take out a small loan to do so.

  The LEMO roster stands at 22 right now; there are 22 playmakers. However, the foundation is looking to progress and grow, so that more kids can reap the benefits of their organization. In order for that to happen, word needs to spread, and more generous hearts need to be found!

  Regardless of their outcome, reaching the collegiate level (or beyond) or not, kids' involvement in a community like LEMO will only be beneficial to their (and OUR) futures. If kids are a part of something, if they have adults/mentors who care for, and who are invested in them, they can achieve anything. 

  Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to be the best they can be -- in all aspects of life -- and the LEMO Foundation is helping kids in the Bay Area do just that.

  For more information on how to become involved, in any capacity, with LEMO, please check out their website here.


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