It's a home-field advantage where everyone wins.
Community outreach and a beloved Essex County pastime will come together this Saturday for the first-ever Hoodlove Home Court Basketball tournament at East Orange's Oval Park.
From 2 to 7 p.m., basketball lovers of all ages can play competitive street ball and collect vital information on education, employment and social services as part of the event created by a group of locally active pals looking to give back to its community.
"We live in the community and we know what's going on," said Yvonne Williams, who organized the tournament with Fred Deriulus, of East Orange, and Elliot Jones, of Newark.
Nonprofits with Essex County roots, like Urban Renewal Corporation, and Brothers Standing United, will be doling out information while three basketball teams for those under age 12, ages 12-17 and adult will compete for bragging rights in the inaugural tournament. Open court will be open to all during the first portion of the tournament.
"We want to bridge that gap between the nonprofits that want to help out … and people who actually would like that help," said Williams, a Newark native who now lives in Maplewood.
The event will also serve as a think tank to brainstorm solutions to various issues prevalent in the surrounding communities.
Williams estimated about 200 people will flood Oval Park for the tournament, all thanks to word of mouth. Two other Hoodlove tourneys in Newark and Irvington will be scheduled for later this summer.
While Williams and her two friends have considered starting their own nonprofit organization, they've got more immediate plans to tackle. They hope to host a summer enrichment program in the coming months for kids as young as seventh grade to "teach what you didn't learn in school," said Williams.
"It's to supplement education, but not in the sense that we're trying to play catch-up," she said. "We want kids to think for themselves and constantly search for knowledge."