G.V.Y.C. debuts spring hoops with Knicks’ assist

G.V.Y.C. was founded in 1969 by its executive director, John Pettinato, above, who continues to coach and counsel young people on and off the court almost 50 years later.   Photos by James Kwitny

G.V.Y.C. was founded in 1969 by its executive director, John Pettinato, above, who continues to coach and counsel young people on and off the court almost 50 years later. Photos by James Kwitny

JOEY ZANNINO | This Mon., May 9, the Greenwich Village Youth Council will kick off its first annual Spring Basketball League, a free six-week tournament in partnership with the New York Knicks. The league will host games on weekday evenings at the William Passannante Ball Field courts, at W. Houston St. and Sixth Ave.

Completely free for 200 middle school boys and girls from the community, G.V.Y.C.’s newest offering is a lead-in to the massively successful W. Fourth St. Summer Basketball Tournament, which has been run since 1977 at “The Cage” at the W. Fourth St. courts. In 2015, more than 400 boys and girls ages 13 to 17 registered for the free summer tournament. More than 75 percent of the young people that participated in the league came from public housing throughout the five boroughs. With the addition of the spring league, G.V.Y.C. hopes to connect even more young people and their families to the services that it has offered to the community for almost 50 years.

The Greenwich Village Youth Council has been empowering young people throughout New York City since 1969. G.V.Y.C. offers academic support, counseling, court intervention, recreational activities, drug prevention and other programs and services to our city’s youth. In 2015, we debuted a summertime Cops & Kids evening program in partnership with the New York Police Department that keeps the teens’ recreation center open until 11 p.m. seven nights each week during the summer, and starts again this July 5.

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G.V.Y.C. has been running a free summer basketball tournament for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 for decades. The first tournament was in 1977.

Many individuals and local businesses support G.V.Y.C.’s Spring Basketball League in partnership with the Knickerbockers. The city’s Parks Department has worked closely with our organization over the past months to give the W. Fourth St. court much-needed improvements. Backboards were donated to the organization and G.V.Y.C has installed them in the park to share with the community.

“The league would never be possible without the support of so many of our friends and backers throughout New York City and beyond, but especially in Greenwich Village,” said John Pettinato, G.V.Y.C. executive director. “The response from local businesses has been very heartwarming. As with all of our programming, this league will focus on providing some of the city’s most at-risk young people with a safe and structured activity, in addition to access to our staff and services.”

G.V.Y.C. is based out of the Jeanne Otter Youth Center (J.O.Y. Center), at 213-15 Eldridge St., which G.V.Y.C. has operated as a safe haven for young people since 1989.

Youth-serving organizations of similar size and scope are receiving less and less funding from the city and state each year and have been closing their doors at an alarming rate. G.V.Y.C. is determined to fight through this difficult economic period and continue forward in its mission to deliver streetwise and compassionate services to the city’s most at-risk youth. To find out more information about Greenwich Village Youth Council and its programs or to get involved, visit http://www.gvyc.net.

Zannino is a director, Greenwich Village Youth Council

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