Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter is planning a basketball fundraiser and hopes players will sign up to play for the home team.
Flight Squad, a group reminiscent of the Harlem Ambassadors, will play during a fundraiser from 3-5 p.m. Sept. 24 at Reedsburg Area High School. The shelter needs volunteers to play; the deadline to sign up is Aug. 15.
Players don’t need to be star athletes, said Darcy Swiscz, president of the shelter’s board of directors. Safe Harbor is trying to recruit adults from Reedsburg, Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells.
“It’s not that they have to play a long, strenuous game,” she said. “The more people we have the less time they have to be on the floor.”
All Flight Squad members have played professionally for international teams or the NBA, said team President and Founder Doron Lowe. He said those who made the NBA no longer play either due to being waived or injury.
The team is co-ed, and the female player also coaches, he said.
Flight Squad’s visits include a halftime show with surprise twists. Lowe declined to offer details to avoid spoiling the event, but he described it as “‘The Fast and the Furious’ meets basketball.”
“We wanted to fuse together themes of speed and entertainment,” he said.
Swiscz said the shelter thought Flight Squad would be a popular regional attraction that could serve as a fundraiser.
The organization hopes to sell as many tickets as possible to help cover operating costs. Safe Harbor, which serves only women and children, spends $171 a day on expenses such as utility bills and insurance. It relies solely on fundraisers and donations. The director is the only paid employee; everyone else volunteers.
Swiscz said it’s been difficult to raise money because homelessness in the region doesn’t look like what people see on TV or in metropolitan areas. Those who are affected may stay with friends, sleeping on any couch they can find, or turning to their vehicles for home. Safe Harbor not only provides a roof but also sets benchmarks for success, such as requiring employment searches and helping residents secure an apartment. The goal is to move them out of the shelter in a couple of months while giving them the tools to overcome their situation.
“People kind of close their eyes to homelessness,” she said. “”It’s not like in the city where you see them sleeping on benches or in streets. It’s kind of an invisible problem.”