Thursday, November 26, 2009

Times-Picayune Thanksgiving Article on Me & HOPE Foundation!

Check the article below by Ryan Chatelain & the Times-Picayune


WNBA star offers HOPE to underprivileged youth in New Orleans and Kenner through her non-profit foundation

Thursday, November 26, 2009
By Ryan Chatelain
Contributing writer

Bob Starkey points out that there are many similarities between the Temeka Johnson who guided the Phoenix Mercury to a WNBA title last month and the Temeka Johnson who helps children and schools through her foundation.

"When you watch Temeka play, her entire game is about setting people up," said Starkey, associate coach for the LSU women's basketball team. "The records she owns around here, most are about assists. And now in her personal life, she's doing the same thing. She's passing out assists through her foundation. I think she's somebody who enjoys helping people do what they need to do."

Johnson, a 5-foot-3 point guard who played at Bonnabel High School and LSU, finished fourth in the WNBA in assists last season. As a member of the Washington Mystics in 2005, she was chosen the Rookie of the Year. She also led the Lady Tigers to two Final Four appearances.

But Johnson takes pride in her work off the court, too. Her youth-focused HOPE Foundation awards college scholarships and rewards hard-working, underprivileged students with free haircuts, shoes or Christmas shopping sprees. She often visits schools to talk to students about education and self-esteem.

"I think it's important for the kids to know that being a star athlete is not all about the glamour," said Johnson, who won an award from the WNBA in June for her community work and currently is playing in Israel. "I want to be visible enough for them to see that you still have to be a human. You still have to have great character. You still have to be a role model. It's not about the nice cars and the nice rims and all that kind of stuff.

"Plus, I'm from the exact same environment they're from, and I want them to see that you can make it."

Each year, the foundation "adopts" a school. Johnson meets with educators to learn about the school's needs, then raises money to address those shortcomings. Last month, the foundation adopted Washington Montessori School in Kenner.

Johnson's grandmother, Jewel Johnson, who died of cancer in 2008, inspired Temeka Johnson's work with schools. Jewel Johnson was a longtime teacher at Washington, and HOPE named its four scholarships in her honor.

"Education is important, and the kids of today are really our future," Johnson said. "It seems like the education system is falling and dropping lower and lower each year, and kids are not caring about education as much. So I just want to do anything that I can to express the importance of education."

Johnson set her sights on starting a foundation as early as her junior year at LSU. One evening, she walked into Starkey's office and told him about her plan to help people. The two met every few months afterward to discuss the possibility as Johnson researched other charitable groups and crafted her vision for her own foundation. She planned to carry on with the plan whether she played professional ball or not, said Starkey, who serves on HOPE's board and contributes financially.

The name HOPE stands for "heaven opens people's eyes" and is more than a clever acronym, Johnson said.

"Ever since I've been playing this game, everyone has always come at me -- young people, old people, small, tall, short, it didn't matter -- everybody's always told me that I've given them hope," Johnson said. "And when I look at it, it doesn't take anything to give anybody hope. Some kinds words can give them hope, a hug, a pat on the back, just a congratulations."

Johnson has a classic underdog story. The diminutive guard was often told she was too short to play college and professional basketball. LSU fan Tracy Ford was inspired by Johnson's play and has closely followed Johnson's career and donates a monthly check to the foundation.

"I just love the way that she's handled herself," said Ford, 48. "She's a wonderful person. She's got a good heart. Kids her age these days, some of them don't care too much. They don't give back. It's great to see that she's giving something back."

Because WNBA salaries pale in comparison to the pay of major-league men's sports, Johnson's foundation relies more heavily on grassroots fundraising. That suits Johnson just fine.

"It's a lot more fundraising, but you know what though, it's a lot more fun, too," Johnson said. "Because it keeps me involved. I don't just want my name to be used for something. I want to be involved in everything."

Starkey said it's tough to say no to Johnson.

"Temeka's passion gets you excited," he said. "Temeka hasn't come in touch with anybody and talked about her foundation where they haven't come on board in some form or fashion. It just seeps through her pores how much this means to her."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to stop in to say I hope all of you are having a great Thanksgiving!

I hope that you are feeling the same way as I do right now. Knowing that we have so much to be thankful for! I have gone through a lot over the past year and a half, and through it all, the Good Lord has held me in His arms, guided me, protected me, helped me, and ordered my steps through the entire thing. I am SOOOOOOO thankful.

If I look back on 2008, I know for a fact that God was with me in 2009. I went from not playing, to losing my best friend in my Grandmother Jewel Johnson, to playing this year and winning the WNBA Championship! Yes God is good. But I must tell you that through all of that - the hurt, the pain, the emotional roller coaster, the happiness, the joy, etc. - I used the strength that he gave me to get through it all and that makes me smile the most.

The effect that all of that had on so many that was and is a part of my life, was difficult. Seeing my family happy and make it through another year without my grandmother, seeing how happy they are and were to share in my success, seeing how many lives I am able to touch through what I am doing, seeing the smiles that are being placed on everyone's face through THE H.O.P.E. FOUNDATION, knowing that there are many that will be able to go to college through the Jewel Johnson Scholarship. Knowing that my grandmother and Coach Gunter's Legacy will continue to go on through me and all the lives that they have touched. I am telling you all right now that I know for a fact that I have so much to be thankful for.

I could go on and on but I will cut it short. I would like for you all to be able to get to your turkey before it gets too cold, from reading all this! LOL! Take a moment to express your thanks. I know that there is something that you are thankful for, even if its just being blessed to see another day. Thanksgiving is a special day, enjoy it and your family and friends. I know that we give thanks on this day, but I hope that we give thanks everyday, because we all know that tomorrow is not always promised.

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I hope you all eat enough of that good food for me. I will be playing a game and indulging in a turkey sandwich with no mayo, because it is kosher over here (I may not even have any cheese either). LOL it's OK, though, because all in all I am still thankful and truly blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Sea Visit!!

OK everyone, I know that I haven't been blogging as much lately, but I figured you all didn't want to hear anything else about me being in Israel. Well sorry if that is true because this past weekend I had a blast in Eilat!

I went to visit the Red Sea. You all know the Sea that Jesus parted for Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. It was so nice yall. The water was beautiful, the scenery was amazing, but most of all just being able to be on the historical grounds was good enough for me.

I don't know if yall know this but I didn't. Surrounding the Red Sea there are four countries. Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Israel; and you are traveling by boat in the sea, so you can see the different flags posted to represent each country. I thought that was really cool. While there, we went to visit the underwater observatory marine park where you can witness the feeding of the fish and sharks by a scuba diver. They feed the big gigantic turtles and the stingrays, too. You get a beautiful view of the ocean on a glass boat that allows you to see the ocean clearly through the bottom off the boat. You could swim with the dolphins, etc., if you'd like. I passed on that!

There were a lot of things to do, I am not saying that I did all of them, but I did get in most of them. LOL. Also while there my teammate Natasha Lacy experienced her first camel ride, as many of you already know I did that last year, so I didn't need to do it again. But Tasha had a blast. Courtney Paris wasn't having it - LOL - I will try and get her on it before I leave from here. That is a goal of mine.

From there we went on a boat ride and here is where Ashley Walker and Tasha went Parasailing, now that was something that I was not doing! Neither was Courtney, LOL, so we went along for the ride and just chilled on the inside of the boat. Ash and Tasha had a blast and I enjoyed laughing at them. We didn't have a lot of time to do everything that we wanted to do, but we did manage to get most of the stuff in.

The hotel was nice and the food was good. The shopping was on point as well. The one thing that was a surprise to me, and I promise I will stop saying that I will NEVER do things, because there is a 1st for everything. Because the roads were closed due to a bike race there was no ride to the airport, so we had to walk to the airport with our luggage in hand. LOL yea this is true we were all shocked, hot and a lil' mad but it was not much we could have done. I must say that we were not the only ones that had to do this and the others were just as upset as we were. There was no warning or anything but it was what it was. Overall the trip went well. I wont even touch on the security problems that we faced. That will entail me writing a book; it was so much, but we made it there and back safely so I am OK.

OK, so now about basketball. We have won every game that I have played in while here. We have a nice one coming up today and another on Thursday which will be a Cup game. They are both very important games so I will keep you posted on how it goes. Or you can check out for daily updates.

Ok yall until next time,


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Overseas Article..

Basketball /Ashdod upends Ramat Hen too easily

By Tomer Ratman

In the game of the week of the women's Premier League, Maccabi Ashdod ran all over host Ramat Hen yesterday en route to an 89-56 thrashing. Ashdod's foreign players had huge games compared to their Ramat Hen counterparts. Tiffany Jackson was neutralized by Ashley Walker, who held her to six points, while Duke graduate Carrem Gay scored 14 points against Courtney Paris but had a dismal shooting percentage.

In the third head-to-head matchup, Ashdod's Temeka Johnson showed Shannon Bobbit the difference between being the starting point guard for WNBA champs Phoenix Mercury and a reserve for the Los Angeles Sparks. Paris led Ashdod with 20 points, and Walker added 17 points.

"It's an embarrassing loss," said Ramat Hen coach Edney Dagan. "This team has a tough mental problem, but I'm not panicking and we won't make any changes."

Elsewhere, Elitzur Netanya rallied at home from a 52-40 halftime deficit to edge ASA Jerusalem 80-77, and moved into second place.

On the men's side, Gilboa/Galil defeated Maccabi Rishon Letzion 76-64 to rejoin Maccabi at the top of the standings, as the only two unbeaten teams left in the Premier League. Jeremy Fargo led Galil with a double-double - 19 points and 10 rebounds, to go with four assists.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Slam Magazine: Commemorating Altruism

Commemorating Altruism
For the WNBA, community is key.

by Ben York

Unarguably, the WNBA and its players set the quintessential standard in terms of professional athletes genuinely having a noble penchant to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

It’s not even debatable.

Now, before I get hate mail from devout fans of other professional leagues, let me state that I respect and admire those athletes who do make a profound effort and emphasis on giving back. But if we’re honest with ourselves, collectively it’s certainly not close to what could be done with the amount of money that floats around the “big 4” – NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.

That’s why the WNBA gets the crown; they do more with less.

It’s no secret that WNBA players’ salaries are considerably less than other professional athletes; much less. The salary cap for WNBA teams in 2009 was $803,000. For comparisons sake, Kevin Garnett made about $300,000 a game for the Celtics in ’08-09 (about $25 million for the entire year). Thus, Garnett made more money in three games than the combined salaries of any WNBA team (11 players) for the entire 2009 season. This isn’t a knock on Garnett, not by any means (he does a lot in the community with his Foundation); it’s merely an illustration of the disparity in pay between the WNBA and NBA.

In spite of this, the vast majority of WNBA players continually make an unwavering priority to give back to the community; not because their absurd salaries forced them to or for tax benefits, but because they each have an indelible zeal for improving the world around them and because it’s the right thing to do.

If you’re thinking that I’m questioning the authenticity of some professional athletes in terms of their Foundations and personal focus on improving the community, well, you’d be correct. In fact, I very much question the genuineness of many athletes when they make an appearance at a Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters ,etc. and this comes from a first-hand perspective. I’ve worked for many years in both the non-profit world and the sports world and have been around a multitude of professional athletes and celebrities who unquestionably were forced to make an appearance somewhere or write a check with the sole purpose of enhancing their public image. And while, ultimately, the organizations still get funding and exposure, there simply is a different feeling and impact that is created when it comes from a sincere place. The fact remains, however, that we undoubtedly hear more about those events than any of the countless accomplishments in the community by WNBA athletes.

I, for one, think it’s about time we recognize, acknowledge, and honor what is being done in the community by WNBA players and the WNBA Cares program. WNBA Cares focuses on programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, breast health awareness, youth and family development, and education as well as team-sponsored community events. There are a countless number of players and team representatives that have volunteered their time and money for these special community events.

However, here are descriptions of several of the more notable non-profit organizations that have been developed by individual WNBA players. I encourage you to browse their Foundation’s website and get involved!

Kudos to the tireless efforts of these women.

Temeka Johnson, H.O.P.E. (Heaven Opens People’s Eyes)

Meek’s HOPE is active in the community in a number of ways and has made a key decision to help underprivileged children find hope and better their lives. She offers the Jewel Johnson Teacher Scholarship, in honor of her grandmother, to deserving students from Louisiana or attending Louisiana institutions. In addition, Meek’s HOPE has adopted schools to help with projects, mentoring, and fundraising. HOPE also sponsors area youth to receive personal hygiene makeovers for girls and boys, works with local schools and agencies to identify organizational needs, and hosts “A Very Meek Christmas” for local youth where HOPE and Temeka take them on a Christmas shopping spree.

Ketia Swanier – Ketia4Kidz

Ketia4Kidz provides support to the children of deployed and severely injured active duty military service members of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It also provides enrichment activities and tutoring to children while their parent(s) are away in service.

Tamika Catchings – Catch the Stars

Tamika’s mission is to motivate at-risk youth in the Indianapolis area to achieve their dreams and goals by providing positive academic and sports related programs. Largely centered on academics, the foundation also focuses on sportsmanship, healthier lifestyles, mentoring, and basketball/fitness clinics.

Swin Cash – Cash for Kids

Swin developed the Cash for Kids program to assist youth agencies and schools both inside and outside of the classroom in the areas of Arts & Culture, Youth Development, and Athletics.

Candice Wiggins – The Candice Wiggins Foundation Fund

The Candice Wiggins Foundation Fund honors the legacy of Alan Wiggins in its dedication to growing awareness, dialogue and funds to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Ruth Riley – NothingButNets

Ruth is a major player in this movement. Nothing But Nets is a grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Ruth has also been awarded the WNBA Community Assist Award for her dedication to community outreach initiatives related to youth health and wellness - particularly in her work for Nothing But Nets.

Betty Lennox – The Lennox Foundation 22

Betty Lennox’s Foundation centers around supporting kids in all communities that battle with the horrors of neglect and abuse. The money raised by The Lennox Foundation 22 will assist different shelters and homes to enrich their programs and educational needs for their communities.

Tamika Raymond – Thames River Family Programs, NothingButNets

Tamika worked with the Thames River Family Programs (TRFP), a transitional home for women and their children. In addition to her work with TRFP, Tamika was a regular participant and avid supporter of WNBA Cares events and causes, including Nothing But Nets and several visits to local schools, youth organizations, and fan events during the year.

Dawn Staley – Dawn Staley Foundation

The foundation’s mission is to create a future of hope for at-risk youth by providing opportunities that help them realize their dreams and become productive and responsible citizens. The creation and support of educational and sports programs which challenge minds, build character, and help youth to develop to their fullest potential academically, socially and physically are the essence of the foundation.