Basketball Team Learns Life Lesson off the Hardwood in Jamaica

Pine Crest Varsity Boy's Basketball team traveled with Food For The Poor on a
"Journey of Hope for Jamaica" mission trip.

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2011) –The varsity boy’s basketball team at Pine Crest School is making a name for itself. With more than a dozen wins under their belt this season, the two-time state champions tipped off two games in January – not in the “Sunshine State,” but on an island in the sun.

Located in Fort Lauderdale, the Pine Crest Panthers were invited to participate in the Caribbean Shootout in Jamaica with matchups against Kingston College and St. Georges College on Jan.14 and 15. But this trip was about much more than basketball, said Pine Crest President Lourdes Cowgill, who traveled with the team.

"This was a wonderful educational experience for our players because they got to meet kids their age and younger who live in orphanages," said Cowgill. "Thanks to Food For The Poor, our boys got a lesson in service. I am very proud of the way they conducted themselves both on and off the basketball court."

The parents of co-captains Keith Parkinson (l), and Traveon Henry (r) are from Jamaica.

The Panthers’ four-day "Journey of Hope to Jamaica" trip was made possible in part because of Food For The Poor. While on the island, the young men had the opportunity to host basketball clinics at Alpha Boys Home, and the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston. The children received basketballs and soon will receive two pallets loaded with hundreds of pairs of sneakers, uniforms, and, of course, more basketballs. This trip took on a special meaning for a couple of the team’s players, co-captains Keith Parkinson, and Traveon Henry, whose parents are from the island.

"Jamaica was the first country served by Food For The Poor in 1982, and we've helped many to obtain suitable housing, food, and much needed goods in kind," said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. "But it's the work we've done in the schools and with the orphanages that touches us the most. The future of Jamaica is in the hands of its young people; it was good to see Pine Crest's basketball team spearhead this noble initiative and to see the pride of the young men with family ties to the island."

The Panthers held a basketball clinic at the Alpha Boys Home where they had a friendly game of one-on-one with the younger boys.

For the last six years, the varsity basketball team has taken annual trips to Ohio, New York, Atlanta, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to Springfield, Mass. The Panthers' Head Coach David Beckerman said his team not only took on two of Jamaica’s top schools in the sport of basketball, but his players got a priceless experience that will last a lifetime.

"There is more to life than a game of basketball," said Beckerman. "We need to understand that there are people who are less fortunate, and it is our obligation to help."

To view a video footage from the trip, please visit Food For The Poor's YouTube channel.

Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit

The Panthers took part in a basketball shootout against Kingston College and St. Georges College in Kingston.

Wanda Wright
Public Relations
954-427-2222, ext. 6079