Sadly, one of the best, most popular and most impactful non-profit organizations in Washington, DC over the past 13 years is shutting down due to lack of funds.

But, instead of mourning the closing of the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Foundation, I’d like to focus on what we accomplished for so many deserving youths as well as the legacy of the HDSF.

I’ve been an up close observer of HDSF as a long-time friend of the founder, Susie Kay, as well as serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the past few years.

In a nutshell, we were able to provide over 1,000 academic scholarships over the 13 years.  Many of these recipients are from lower-income areas; come from a single-parent families; and, are the first ones to attend and graduate college from their immediate family.

I am blessed to have two wonderful mentors, Ted Leonsis and Mario Mario.  They are both legendary in DC for their phenomenal philanthropic vision and efforts.  But, I must also send major props to another person who “showed me the way,”  Ms. Susie Kay.   I watched this incredible person launch her dream of helping and providing students from Wards 7 and 8 (areas that many DC area people have never been to) the opportunity to go to college.

I watched her give and give and give.   It was due to her energy and passion that so many of us from the business community signed on to help her make her dream come true.

As I told the board at our meeting earlier this week, watching Susie in action helped spur me on to get more and more involved with community service, mentoring and non-profits.   I  now work in some capacity (board member, adviser, connector, volunteer, fund-raiser) for 14 non-profits in this area.    I know that over the past decade we have touched and improved the lives of hundreds and hundreds of deserving young men and women.

Multiply my simple efforts with the many others that were touched by Susie’s actions at HDSF.  So, in effect, she not only helped 1,000 students receive scholarship, she and her HDSF has helped spur community involvement — and has literally impacted tens of thousands of lives.   The legacy will continue for decades and decades because many of these young students will be the ones mentoring the younger generations.

I am so proud of the mentees I’ve gotten to know over the years.  They will remain friends for a lifetime.  Michael – who has become a younger brother to me – is a proud graduate of Hampton Univ and now works for Verizon; Fanchon just graduated from Temple Univ; Ayana is a rising senior at AU; and Emily is a rising junior at Princeton Univ.

To these young men and women; to Susie Kay; to our board; to our many wonderful mentors and volunteers — I salute you for all of our fantastic efforts.   Yes, we are closing down this year, but the dream will live on.