Dining With Miss Lil: The 2017 Pelham Fritz Basketball League Scholars

By Lil Nickelson

On Sunday, August 6th, 2017 The Pelham Fritz Basketball League (“PFBL”) Scholarship Fund, Inc. held their annual awards ceremony in the 2nd floor art gallery at the Harlem State Office Building in conjunction with NYS Assembly woman Inez Dickens.The league is named after Pelham Fritz (1920-1988) a Trinidad born and raised in NYC assistant commissioner at the Parks Department  who was one of the original organizers of the celebrated Holcombe Rucker Community Basketball League.  Fritz was a dedicated Harlem community servant that was active in the Harlem YMCA, Abyssinian Church, Dunleavy Milbank Center, Greater Harlem Nursing Home, Harlem Meals on Wheels and the Children’s Aid Society.

The afternoon ceremony provided 16 high school graduates and one returning college student with $500 scholarships each to help them buy textbooks and other needed college materials.  The fund was established in 2006 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to use sports to motivate low income youths to pursue their dreams of going to college.  To date the fund has awarded over $140,000 to more than 275 NYC metropolitan high school graduates.

Melvin Pratt, Executive Director/Treasurer opened the program stating how PFBL started out as a basketball organization for men 38 years and older that also provided mentor to youth in the Harlem community.  He stepped into his role after the previous leader, Corwin Breeden, succumbed to his illness at the age of 54 years old and plans on carrying on his legacy.

Guest speaker was James Miles Clark, Esq., Deputy Attorney General for the NYS Attorney General regional office in Harlem.  He urged each of the scholars to find out what your purpose is by remembering who you are, make sure you seize your chance to shine, to take the time necessary to become the best you and don’t let anything or one pull you down or make you lose your self esteem.

I sat next to Graciela Gutierrez, the mother of one of the scholars and I inquired how she was feeling seeing her daughter honored.  “I’m very proud of her work ethic and determination to become a psychologist one day,” Gracie Graciela said with a beaming smile on her face.

Lunch was lovingly prepared and served by caterer Rosita Parker and her two volunteers.  We dined on fried chicken wing pieces, roast chicken breast, brown rice, macaroni salad, tossed salad and assorted cake slices.

After lunch they presented the 2017 scholars and the colleges they would be attending this fall:

Mahzabin Ansari- CUNY Brooklyn College

Zainab Bah – St. John Fisher College

Djeanne Jean-Louis – CUNY School of Medicine The City College of NY

Susan Gutierrez – Mercy College

Farahana Appiah – Trinity College

Carnell Erik White – Hampton University

Sharai Isler- Howard University

Kennedy Faye Kerr – Brown University Continued Education Grant

Fatoumata Sall- Boston College

Jonathan Tavizon – CUNY Hunter College

Kate Appiah – Babson College

Nathan Cummings – Lehman College

Laquan Garvey – SUNY Binghamton University

Victoria Pannell  – Duke University

Averi Parker – Jamestown Community College SUNY

Josue Valarezo – St. John Fisher College

Keon Hanley – Purchase College SUNY

Photographs by Rudy Collins, from Rudy’s World.

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