In 2016, Rising Stars celebrates 20 years and more than 200 college and professional level players. Here, founder Paul Savramis discusses Rising Stars’ growth, impact, and strategy.
Q: What originally gave you the idea for Rising Stars?
Paul Savramis: We initially offered summer basketball camps for kids wanting to improve their skills. What we accomplished with those camps, however, was to dig deeper than the X’s and O’s found on basketball courts. Our staff began to get to know each player, their dreams, goals, and what was holding them back, not just in the game but in life. These were kids who needed a hand up not on the court but for what they found off it. It sparked a passion for me and my coach’s to strive for a greater impact.
Paul Savramis is the founder of Rising Stars, one of the Northeast’s most respected after-school sports and academic support programs. One of the best byproducts of the program is allowing its members a first hand look at other community based programs and charities. Student athletes from Rising Stars recently offered their time and talents to residents of the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park. In the following Q&A, Savramis explains how the teens did more than just provide a home cooked meal.
Q: What is Meals from the Heart?
Paul Savramis: Meals from the Heart is a volunteer program facilitated through the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The program rallies volunteer groups to provide home-cooked meals to families staying in a Ronald McDonald House. RMH in new Hyde Park offers accommodations to families with children at Cohen’s Children’s Hospital.
Q: How many families did your Rising Stars student athletes feed?
Paul Savramis: On August 18, 2016, boys from the Rising Stars scholars program cooked dinner for several families at RMH. However, as the kids learned during their hours in the home, they were providing more than just food. Many of these families spend 15 to 20 hours a day at the hospital tending to their terminally ill children. Having someone else come in and take care of the cooking and cleaning, even for one night, was a more than welcome form of respite.
Idle hands, says Paul Savramis, can be full of risks. Especially in children, where boredom often leads to mischief. Here, Savramis discusses a few ways the Rising Stars organization helps student athletes fill their time with positive community projects and exactly what that means to the athletes and recipients.
Q: What kinds of charity organizations do Rising Stars’ student athletes volunteer with?
Paul Savramis: Our boys and girls have numerous opportunities each year to make a difference in their local communities. One of our biggest volunteer opportunities is the Long Island Lutheran High School Food Drive. This awesome community event collects food for hundreds of children…enough food to last each child an entire year!
Q: How many food packets were filled this year?
Paul Savramis: In April, we packed over 300,000 boxes of nutritionally balanced food. These were delivered both locally and to hungry children across the globe. Our team packed enough food for over 500 kids.
In his new book, “Life is Not an Accident,” Jay Williams admits the mistakes that cost him his career. But Paul Savramis says the Rising Stars alumni didn’t let fate deal him a final hand, and that he has played his cards better than anyone could have imagined.
Jay Williams was the first pick of the Chicago Bulls and the second pick overall in the 2002 NBA Draft. He was a national champion, two time all american and recent Duke University graduate (One of a very few to graduate in three years) with a promising career laid at his very talented feet, says Paul Savramis. But Williams was like most young men that experience a rapid rise to success.He was ready to take on the world, ready for whatever challenges might lie in his path and ready to experience life’s thrills and adventures. What he wasn’t ready for, however,was the possible consequences of too much too soon.
Rising Stars Inc. founder Paul Savramis understands that many lessons learned on the basketball court translate to everyday life. Emphasizing academic achievements and positive life skills, as well as providing youth with the opportunity to achieve success and a better lifestyle, Rising Stars has successfully utilized basketball to promote education to youth throughout the greater New York area.
Every young man and woman who has played on Rising Stars teams is a personal testament to the strength and dedication of the mentors and coaches of this program. “We take much pride in what these fine young people have been able to accomplish on and off the court,” says Paul Savramis.
Paul Savramis recently announced that Rising Stars, Inc. was pursuing a new partnership with the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Long Island. This new alliance is nearly identical to Rising Stars’ existing partnership with the Long Island City YMCA. It is also in one of the first areas that late Rising Stars visionary and child advocate Tyrone Greene worked so hard to initiate the Rising Stars program.
Rising Stars and the Variety Boys & Girls Club share common values and priorities. Each of the organizations has the singular goal of enriching the lives of children. Through this endeavor, Paul Savramis and the team at Rising Stars hopes to arm the next generation of adults with the power and knowledge to overcome the obstacles and challenges they face. The Variety Boys & Girls Club offers numerous educational and athletic opportunities to students that include a STEM education program and advanced computer lab.
December 14th, 2015 was a big night for some of the city’s smallest athletes. Rising Stars, a non-profit basketball program founded by Paul Savramis, held its first Hearts & Hoops event at Long Island Lutheran High School. Here, Savramis opens up about how the students opened their hearts.
Q: What was the idea behind this inaugural Hearts & Hoops event?
Paul Savramis: We always strive to keep our athletes involved in projects that make their community a better place. The Hearts & Hoops event was an idea that developed watching how well these players worked together on and off the court. We thought, “Imagine what they can do with all of this positive energy…”