Many CSUN professors are often overlooked as significant contributors to the community outside the university, much less the San Fernando Valley.
But business administration professor Norris (Rashe) Dorsey is challenging that perception after the university recognized his work with at-risk youth and awarded him a $2,000 community service grant.
Since 1999, Dorsey has been working with the Reach More Foundation, an organization that takes an interest in at-risk youth by using basketball as a platform to help them reach academic success.
“The first thing is to get (the youth) off the streets, then we get them into college, see them through their graduation and try to get them a job? usually overseas,” Dorsey said.
The Reach More Foundation is the only program of its kind in Southern California and is sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Even Jim Cleamons, assistant coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, has volunteered his time to host a clinic for the youth to talk about the NBA and the life of a professional player.
When Dorsey isn’t busy teaching at CSUN, he can be found coaching the basketball teams, organizing fundraising events, or mentoring some of the youth. The program is currently being run out of Chatsworth and Canoga Park high schools.
“We’ve helped over 300 kids get to college,” Dorsey said. “The central component is training, academic mentoring and community involvement.”
Though the Reach More Foundation is open only to 17 to 25-year-olds, H.U.G.S, a new project, was initiated last year to engage current players of the basketball team to reach out to 11 to 16-year-old kids that might not be interested in going to college.
Twenty-year-old player Ramall Goodrich, “When kids have nowhere to turn, the program gives them a bigger eye on life.”
Goodrich has been a part of the program for more than four years and said it helped him get into La Sierra University in Riverside.
Though not an at-risk youth himself, Goodrich joined the program after his brother participated.
“It basically showed me that it’s not just about (the game). There are also other (opportunities) and options,” said Goodrich, adding that the program shows youth that no matter what, “there’s always a way” to do something productive in life.
Like Goodrich, Kris Balbuena, 24, has also found success through the Reach More Foundation. Balbuena has been a player for the last three years and said that without the help of the program he would not have had the opportunity of going to La Sierra University and having a chance to try out with a professional team in Mexico.
Balbuena said, ” I think it helps out ? because a lot of kids are overlooked.”
“It gives kids a second chance to believe in their dreams and a second chance at playing college basketball,” Balbuena said.
But the success of the program hasn’t come without a struggle. Dorsey said that because the Reach More Foundation is a non-profit organization, it relies heavily on donations and fundraising. The lack of money also puts a strain on how many kids they can help, since trying to attract media attention and publicity is difficult. Most of the youth that come into the program have had to find out through word-of-mouth.
“We (always) solicit volunteers to help us fundraise,” Dorsey said.
This spring, the Reach More Foundation held its Sixth Annual Charity Golf Tournament, which gave all its proceeds to the organization. Dorsey said that many of the youth in the program are eager to help because the money they raise goes toward their own activities and projects.
Still, the organization’s vitality is heavily impacted by the amount of volunteer and charity work from the community.
“CSUN students can definitely volunteer,” Dorsey said. “Students can earn internship hours (working with us).”
Anyone interested in volunteering with Dorsey should contact him through the College of Business and Economics at (818) 677-2458.
Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Click on The Gripevine.