As the Buffalo celebration of Juneteenth marks its 43rd consecutive year participating in the nation’s third largest celebration, Cecelie Owens, Principal of Public School #94 West Hertel Academy and the Founder and President of G.I.R.L.S. Sports Foundation, Inc., successfully completed another year of celebrating both basketball and the vibrant youth that dedicate their time and skill to the sport so faithfully.
Juneteenth of Buffalo, Inc. exists exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Staffed by volunteers, its mission is to actively preserve and promote the broad spectrum of African American heritage through educational and cultural activities that will benefit the community as a whole. Juneteenth Festival, Inc. partners with existing organizations with similar community-based objectives to help achieve its mission. The event that Ms. Owens orchestrates is a direct reflection of this mission. With the basketball community’s support, Ms. Owens successfully warrants the volunteerism of referee’s, a DJ, scorekeepers, and a bracket-ologist. Participants of course are able to be included in the event for free and upon registration are given a free Juneteenth Celebration of Basketball t-shirt. This year, the celebration consisted of a Women’s 3-on-3 tournament where the first, second and third place winners received trophies for Participation, Sportsmanship, and Most Valuable Players. In this years event, over 50 females from all ethnic backgrounds competed for an opportunity to be crowed champion.
The G.I.R.L.S. Sports Foundation, Inc. serves underserved girls ages 4 to 18 from some of the most poverty stricken communities in the City of Buffalo. GSF reaches out to the girls through sporting events such as basketball clinics, sports lessons, educational fairs, and/or other activities meant to reach their immediate needs. Additionally GSF has educational workshops, field trips, mentoring sessions and other community based learning activities.