August 6, 2012 – Horatio Williams Foundation
It’s always inspiring to hear about organizations who really have an interest in the youth of Detroit. Horatio Williams Foundation is one of these organizations making a difference in the lives of Detroit kids. From donating space to local schools in need, to participating in events such as Arise Detroit, Horatio Williams Foundation is one actively working to affect change.
Mission Statement: The Horatio Williams Foundation is dedicated to helping local youth realize personal success and achievement through a series of developmental leadership programs that will engage students in education, sports, and community service activities.
Pledge: We are dedicated to addressing and meeting the needs of under-served inner city youth by developing their leadership skills in the concentrated areas of sports, education, and community service. We promise to emphasize the importance of leadership through education and teamwork by providing programs that instill discipline, confidence, and high self-esteem.
Mission: To teach our children character-building life lessons and encourages them to take on leadership roles throughout their lives. HWF parallels the philosophy of our schools, which is that every child is important, every child is special and every child can learn. Once we recognize the similarities and differences between our goals and our children’s goals then we can find the common ground to reach one – teach one. We are committed to providing our youth with leadership, discipline, organizational, and the life skills required of them to become more effective life-long leaders. To that end, our focus is to provide a structured program that will help cultivate their leadership skills so that each year they accelerate their potential and build upon their skills from the previous year.
Who We Are: The Horatio Williams Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 by passionate and great leader who always wanted to find a way to Give A “SECOND CHANCE”. Our goal is to be life long vehicles to helping children become leaders. Our teamwork approach requires every participant to develop trust, build integrity, and give as a servant to our community, while participating in our events and programs. Through this end we set goals that are attainable both individually and with teammates. It is clear to us at HWF that changing the lives of our children can change the world. Leadership development can build children of high character, who lead, preserve, overcome adversity and function as productive/effective members of our society. We are helping change the world; one child at a time and we accept the challenge.
Horatio Williams believes it is easy to reach kids – just show them some attention. That’s the idea behind his eponymous foundation, and he sees results every day.
“Kids don’t respect older people because they think they don’t care,” says the 42-year-old Grosse Pointe resident. “If we show them we do care, these kids will turn their way around and change the way they think.” Williams saw this firsthand when he was visiting a group of teens at a local gym. One he calls “the toughest one” was being disruptive and uncooperative, so Williams warned he’d have to kick him out. “I said, ‘I don’t want to because I love you,’ and the kid started crying. He said, ‘No one has ever said I love you to me before,’” Williams says.
That kind of response keeps Williams, a single father to an 11-year-old son, motivated to continue the success of the Horatio Williams Foundation. The Detroit-based organization is dedicated to helping innercity youth realize personal success and achievements, primarily through sports and education.
Williams never envisioned that philanthropy would become a large part of his life. As a freshman on a basketball scholarship at Tuskegee University, he fully expected to turn pro after graduation. That plan was shattered when he was hit by a drunken driver one night while biking home from practice. Williams broke numerous bones and spent two weeks in a coma. His playing days were over, and, 15 surgeries later, he says he’s still recovering.
“It was devastating when I woke up from the coma,” Williams recalls. “I asked God, why me? But I think He put me in a better position. You know the struggle of pro athletes – they come and go. But now I have a successful transportation company and foundation.” Williams founded that company, On Time Transportation, in 1992 after learning the business from his former employer. The non-emergency medical transportation firm employs 32 people and has serviced more than 3,000 clients.
While he was building the business, Williams liked to drop by the gym at his alma mater, Butzel Middle School in Detroit, where the basketball rims were broken, nets were missing and balls were scarce. He started buying equipment for the school, and after hitting up his friends for donations, they encouraged him to secure non-profit status. In 2005, the Horatio Williams Foundation was born as a 510(c)(3).
The organization gets disadvantaged kids involved in a number of ways, including basketball camps, field trips, SAT/ACT tutorials, turkey giveaways, and the annual Second Chance Basketball Game where high school seniors who did not receive college scholarships play in front of coaches and scouts from across the country. “We get 16 to 17 scholarships every year,” Williams says proudly.
The foundation also buys uniforms and sneakers for student athletes at cash-strapped schools. “The families can’t afford it, and I don’t want these kids to do anything wrong to get gym shoes,” Williams says. He admits to great irritation with the constant travails of Detroit Public Schools. “No one is stepping up to help these kids – they are all bickering about contracts,” he says. “I feel frustrated because I don’t feel the kids are first.”
Williams pledges to continue putting youth – who call him H or Mr. Williams – in the forefront. “Every kid on earth has some kind of talent,” he says. “If we can step up and give these kids opportunities, they will do better in school, and it will cut out the violence. We can start rebuilding communities.” – Joyce Wiswell