For 27 years, Tyrone Gaines has volunteered in the Baltimore City neighborhood of Reservoir Hill, where he has lived his entire life.
In 1971, Mr. Gaines, then a 16 year-old student, staged a basketball game in an effort to unite his community following the murder of a 12-year old. Today, more than 200 players, ages 7 to 35, play in the Reservoir Hill Rivalry Community Basketball League – a league that is funded primarily by Mr. Gaines' personal income.
In addition to nurturing the likes of NBA players David Wingate, Mugsy Bogues and Reggie Williams, the league has changed the lives of many more by teaching the value of respect, honesty, hard work, dignity and friendship. Mr. Gaines makes sure that his league sets an example for youngsters—league players who curse are warned and repeat offenders are suspended.
He uses basketball as way of attracting youth to get involved with his volunteer programs. His 40 member "Trash Busters" team helps keep the neighborhood clean. His “Granny Committee” of local grandmothers holds food drives and dinners for the neighborhood homeless and provides support for those whom are raising their grandchildren. He is president of the Reservoir Hill Coalition; a neighborhood group that addresses residential concerns and provides tutorial services and computer training, using volunteers and donated equipment. The Reservoir Hill Coalition also raises money for community gatherings such as parties and festivals.
Mr. Gaines, who is a full-time information systems operator at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., volunteered a total of 2,000 hours last year. Recently, he was recognized by BGE as Volunteer of the Year and given $1,000 for the charity of his choice. The money paid for professional breakaway rims and backboards for the courts. These new additions make the youth feel as if they are playing in the NBA.
Mr. Gaines is working towards the day when each neighborhood resident is a homeowner, when children can safely play in the street, when people can sit on their steps at night, when neighbors can leave the back door open, and when the drug deals happen only in the local pharmacy.