Led by the enormous smile and clutch play of point guard Mateen Cleaves – a Flint, Mich., native – the Michigan State Spartans won the NCAA championship that 2000. The victory capped the most decorated basketball career in Michigan State history for Cleaves before moving on to the NBA, where he played seven seasons.
Now that his playing days are over, Cleaves has returned to his roots and is helping less fortunate families. He founded the Mateen Cleaves Community Outreach Foundation in an effort to encourage others to use their talents, resources and influence to reinvest in their communities.
This holiday season, Cleaves has teamed up with major corporations and other Michigan natives to help families in his home state.
The Mateen Cleaves’ “One Goal, One Passion: Hope for the Holidays” initiative is an effort to support 1,000 families in the Michigan cities of Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Flint. Families are nominated by local organizations, and will receive packages including help with their bills, meals and gifts, financial planning and counseling assistance.
Cleaves has called on a lot of friends – not all of whom are Michigan State alumni – for help with the program this year.
“This is not a Michigan State initiative, it’s a state of Michigan thing,” said Cleaves. “We wanted to be united to help people from the state of Michigan. I’ve received a lot of support from Cato June, who’s a big Michigan guy. We have our fun talking trash, but at the end of the day we have one common goal: helping people.”
On Saturday, Dec. 14, Cleaves hosted a tweet-a-thon to raise money and awareness for the program.
— Mateen Cleaves (@Mateen_Cleaves) December 12, 2013
“I’ve been able to get a lot of support from folks in Michigan and all over the United States through social media,” said Cleaves. “But there is more we need to do this year.”
The organization has started giving out some of the holiday packages already. Cleaves attended a distribution at a Boys and Girls Club in Lansing on Monday, and will be in his home town of Flint today (Dec. 17). Thursday night, the program will culminate with a VIP Holiday Party in Detroit.
The VIP party will feature a special presentation of the “Hope for the Holidays Hometown Hero Awards,” honoring individuals who have given back tirelessly to the Michigan community. Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo will be among those honored, and attendees will have access to silent and live auctions as well.
For more information about the One Goal, One Passion movement, including ticket availability for the VIP Holiday Party, go to: www.1goal1passion.com.