Phoenix Mercury point guard Temeka Johnson is a leader on and off the court. Phoenix, AZ. August 29, 2009. Photo by Max Simbron
Phoenix Mercury point guard Temeka Johnson is having a fantastic season on the court. Her ability to break down her defender and create opportunities for her teammates has placed her 5th in the league in assists behind only the biggest names in the game. With her Night of HOPE event she is now looking to bring that same spirit of giving that has marked all aspects of her career to her new home city of Phoenix.
Just moments after draining a late three pointer to help the Mercury earn their 20th win of the season, Temeka Johnson went up stairs to a suite in the US Airways center to introduce Meek's HOPE Foundation to local non-profit leaders.
"My goals for tonight was to make people aware of the HOPE Foundation in general. I just want to be able to give hope and give as much back to people as people in the community give to us," explain Johnson about the event.
Meek's HOPE Foundation has primarily been focused on helping children through adopt-a-school programs and on promoting education through her scholarship fund. Temeka follows in the footsteps of her grandmother, Jewel Johnson who was lifelong educator.
The foundation has previously worked in Temeka's native state of Louisiana and her previous WNBA home city of Los Angeles. Since being traded to the Mercury in the off season, Temeka has been looking for an opportunity to learn more about specific needs in the Phoenix community. The Night of HOPE event was designed as a "listening session" to discuss potential areas of focus for her charitable work.
Carolyn Sechler, a CPA who works with over 300 non-profit agencies in the Phoenix area, was on hand to lend her expertise on the local situation. When she explained to Temeka that the average age of all homeless people in the Valley of the Sun was 9 years old, the pain and determination became instantly visible on Johnson's face.
While specific plans will come later, there's no doubt that the Phoenix community will benefit from having Temeka Johnson on its side.
Leaders from Phoenix Mercury organization including Head Coach Cory Gaines, Assistant Coach and former Mercury player Bridget Pettis, Mercury President Jay Parry and GM Ann Meyers-Drysdale attended the event to show their support for Meek's HOPE Foundation.
Ann Meyers-Drysdale said this about her point guard, "Temeka Johnson has always been involved in helping others and we as an organization know how important it is going out in the community, especially a community like ours, where we can have a player like Temeka Johnson and her teammates get involved with HOPE and go out there and help others. It just reflects on the kind of first class person that she is who has always given back to the community."
Johnson follows in the foot steps of many players from both the Suns and Mercury organizations who have understood the obligations and opportunities that come with their role. They represent the best of what professional sports has to offer.
For more information visit meekshope.org
Audio with Temeka Johnson and Ann Meyers-Drysdale