By Marvin Littky, National Vice President, United Veterans Services
The United Veterans Services made a rather unusual donation last June. Usually, UVS donations are made for educational tools, books, Christmas and other Holiday parties in VA Hospitals, sponsoring the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, etc.
This time, a very exciting and novel suggestion was made by John Holtz for a new basketball court. John Holtz, is a veteran and the Assistant Warden of the Martin Correctional Institution, which is located in Indiantown, outside of Stuart, Florida.
He felt that the inmates were not getting enough exercise in the recreation area because the existing basketball court was so old and decrepit that all of the concrete was gone, leaving only a sandy patch of ground on which nobody, not even Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving could dribble a basketball!
Through the UVS donation, a brand new court was built, which was designed to meet and comply with the same dimensions as the new hot "craze" in basketball .....the "3 on 3" game that basketball players of all stripes seem to love.
The project was under the supervision of Lieutenant Elijah Rodriguez, with a big assist from Lieutenant Arthur Schultheiss, and what a great job they both did. Here are a couple of quotes from various e-mails that Lt. Rodriguez sent me as the court was being built. This first e-mail below arrived on July 4th:
"The inmates are very grateful, and have already been getting good use of the court, and it is not even finished yet! I cannot remember the last time I have seen that many inmates actually doing something at the recreation yard except just sitting around"!
And a second heartwarming quote from a recent August 19th e-mail from Lieutenant Rodriguez, after the lines were finally painted on the court and the backboard was refurbished:
"Again, thanks for everything that you and the United Veterans Services have done and provided. It has been a great addition to the recreation yard here at the Martin Correctional Work Camp."
We (the UVS Board of Directors and Officers) should be, and indeed we are proud of the difference that we are making in the lives of these veteran-inmates.
It was very touching for me to see the pride demonstrated by all of the inmates who worked on the basketball court, and in particular, the one inmate who on his own, (it honestly wasn't in any plans), inscribed the fancy MCI lettering for Martin Correctional Institution, which was behind the free throw line on the court!
Attached are the "before" and "after" photos for your perusal and joy of seeing what your volunteer efforts have accomplished. All I could think of when I first saw the before and after photos was.......... OMG - what a huge difference!
Thank You Letter from Martin Correctional Institution:
Martin CI would like to thank United Veterans Services, Mr and Mrs Littky, Lt. E Rodriguez, and Lt. A. Schultheiss for their efforts in building a new basketball camp for Martin Work Camp. The previous basketball court was unusable and the inmates lacked this theurapeutic outlet for some time. United Veteran’s services donated the funds to purchase the concrete, Mr. and Mrs. Littky purchased the paint, Lt. Rodriguez oversaw the project and carefully researched vendors, and Lt. Schultheiss oversaw the construction of the basketball court.
United Veterans Services (UVS) is a non-profit charitable organization with a goal of service to our United States Military Veterans. It was started in 1941 to help assist with civil defense efforts and has since been transformed into a service organization which attends to the needs of veterans. For more information on this organization you can visit www.unitedveteransservices.org.