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Help needed to fulfill city hoop dream

Bishop Perry Davis dreams big. He dreams of a summer basketball tournament that can bring together all of Western New York – young, old, black, white, women and men – just like the Gus Macker used to do before it pulled out of Buffalo.

But first he has to get the mail straightened out, and he’s hoping and praying you can help.

Davis, who founded and leads New Life Harvest World Ministries on Humboldt Parkway, had a calling from God nine years ago to do something about the violent killings that had plagued the city. So he started a new ministry, the Stop the Violence Foundation, to reach out to the city’s youth.

He runs it on a shoestring budget, pulling together small donations and his own resources when he takes on a project.

“I work for a living,” said Davis, who does Internet sales for an Amherst small business. “I feel like if I do what I need to do, then God will take care of what needs to be done.”

Davis felt called last summer to jump-start a basketball tournament after Gus Macker moved its traveling three-on-three street event to Darien Lake. The move was a blow to Buffalo, where the annual basketball games brought everyone from the suburbs to the inner city down to Delaware Avenue to play ball.

Davis knew that kids from Buffalo with no way to get to the Genesee County amusement park would feel the loss the hardest. With just a few weeks to plan, he organized a small tournament in Masten Park.

The first year, he said, was a success. But the name, Murder-Free Summer Basketball Tournament, didn’t exactly inspire. So Davis changed the name to Hoops for Peace and started planning for a bigger tournament with the hope of moving it to Delaware Park this summer.

Davis put out of a call for donations. He hoped to scrape together enough to cover the cost of prizes, security, cleanup and other expenses. Last year, he said, he paid about $5,000 out of his own pocket, an unsustainable amount for a guy who spends about three hours a night on volunteer projects. He hoped to get a few corporate sponsors, too.

Davis was disappointed when nothing came in the mail. Then he got a few calls from would-be donors: The envelopes they mailed to his post office box were getting returned back to them.

Davis was perplexed. He had been getting mail addressed to “Stop the Violence Foundation” at the same P.O. box for nearly a decade. It turns out that because the box was labeled with the name New Life Harvest World Ministries – his church – the post office wouldn’t deliver mail to the foundation at that address. A change in staff a few weeks earlier had triggered the change.

The timing, he said, couldn’t have been worse. He has since labeled the post office box correctly and is certain that the mail will now get through. But he wants to get the word out to anyone who might have had their contribution returned. For the record, donations can be sent to: Stop the Violence Foundation, P.O. Box 1570, Amherst, NY 14226.

Davis is trying awfully hard to get kids out on the court. With Gus Macker gone for the year – it has dropped the Darien Lake location, too – Davis dreams of one day moving his tournament down to Delaware Avenue.

He’s determined to get it off the ground. He just needs a little help.