A blanket of fresh snow and frigid temperatures could not keep fans away from a memorable evening of basketball showmanship on Friday, Feb. 12 between the Harlem Ambassadors and the Habitat Hoopsters at William Carey University’s Clinton Gymnasium
The event was organized as a fundraiser to help defray construction costs of the home being built by Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity for University of Southern Mississippi employee Melissa Carpenter. A little more than $10,000 was raised through ticket sales for the game.
“In spite of the weather, our community came out, nearly filling the gym in complete support of Habitat’s efforts to build a house for Melissa,” said Andrea Dixon, executive director of Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. “The evening was one filled with competitive basketball, extreme humor and an overall fun-filled night of laughter.
“We are so grateful to have been able to host the Harlem Ambassadors and for the wonderful spirit of our Habitat Hoopsters team, both putting on a very humorous and memorable game that I’m sure will be talked about until the rematch next year.”
Since 1998 the Harlem Ambassadors have partnered with hundreds of non-profit organizations in 49 states and 19 countries to provide a fresh, family-oriented basketball show. The team is comprised of former collegiate basketball standouts who have either already earned college degrees or are currently pursuing one.
Even though the Ambassadors won the contest as expected, the real winner was Carpenter, who works as a secretary in the Office of Student Activities at Southern Miss. The raised block foundation has already been started on Carpenter’s home in the Celeste Place Subdivision in Hattiesburg.
“I never would have dreamed that a basketball game would be played for my benefit, and I never believed I would ever own my own home,” said Carpenter. “It’s just all so amazing.”
Harlem Ambassadors star Jesse Whintly knows first-hand the life-changing role Habitat for Humanity occupies for those in need. In 1998 Habitat built a home for Whintly’s mother, Jeanette Weatherspoon, in Kalamazoo, Mich. She still lives in that house today.
“This is truly God’s blessing for families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a new home,” said Whintly, who has been with the Ambassadors for six years. “My mother loves her home and I’m just happy to do my part in helping people like her and Melissa get the breaks they deserve.”
Construction will begin in earnest on Carpenter’s home during the weekend of March 5-6 with hopes of having the work completed in about four weeks.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the project should call 601-266-6467 or 601-582-4663.
University of Southern Mississippi employee Melissa Carpenter served as head cheerleader and assistant coach during a basketball fundraiser held on her behalf on Friday, Feb. 12 at William Carey University’s Clinton Gymnasium. (Office of University Communications photo by Van Arnold)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.