While the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament enters its final stages to determine a national champion, the Division 3 tournament has already crowned its champion. However, there were actually many more winners this year than usual.
The teams that reach the finals of the D3 tournament each year are required to complete several hours of community service while in Salem for Championship Week. One of the ways they accomplish this is through volunteering at various non-profit agencies in the area. Three of the four NCAA D3 title contenders visited HopeTree Family Services prior to the championship.
Christopher Newport University and Benedictine University spent the morning of March 17 with students and faculty of HopeTree Academy on the campus of HopeTree Family Services in Salem. Members of the two basketball teams joined with Academy students for a jovial game of Jeopardy which featured categories from various academic and popular culture topics, plus, of course, basketball. While the competition did finally yield a winning team, the greatest winners were the HopeTree Academy students who enjoyed the friendly interaction with college students who could serve as inspirational role models.
That afternoon, players and coaches from Amherst College volunteered their time with the Day Activities group of HopeTree’s Developmental Disabilities Ministry. These adults have an array of intellectual disabilities and the interaction was a valuable addition to their already high quality of life, as provided by the Developmental Disabilities Ministry. While the adults enjoyed the company and were thrilled to make new friends, the players and coaches came away with new perspectives of their own on the value adults with intellectual disabilities contribute to their surrounding communities.
HopeTree Family Services has long enjoyed participating in this partnership with the NCAA and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference which provides tremendous opportunities for mutual growth and enhancement of the individuals each organization serves.