Block Gives Back puts it up for a good cause

Hoop it up: The Block Gives Back held a Stop The Violence Basketball Tournament at Mullin Playground in Tacony. The tournament was held in memory of Daqwan Medina, who was shot and killed in October. Medina was a basketball fan who loved playing at the Tacony playground. PHOTO: KRISTIN RODRIGUEZ

The Block Gives Back has done some good deeds since forming last December.

Back on Dec. 18, the group of mostly 20-something guys handed out tote bags, hot chocolate, water and pizza to the homeless in Love Park.

The young men stayed with the homeless until about midnight on a freezing, windy night.

“We treated them like people,” said Tom Roush, the group’s CEO and president.

In April, the guys cleaned up four blocks and installed flower pots on days complete with music and games.

“We felt we did a good job. We could see the positivity,” Roush said.

On July 30, they held a Stop the Violence Basketball Tournament at Mullin Playground in Tacony. The rain came, so the later games moved indoors to Vogt Recreation Center.

The tournament was held in memory of Daqwan Medina, 24, who was shot to death last October in a driveway behind the 7100 block of Walker St. Medina, of the 4700 block of Marple St. in Holmesburg, enjoyed playing basketball at Mullin.

Proceeds were split up between funding The Block’s school bag/supplies drive and helping Medina’s family with some bills that came along with his passing.

“This is a great cause. The main thing we’re raising money for is a headstone,” said friend Michele Bradley.

“This is above and beyond what we thought,” said another friend, Dana Fehr.

Roush, a Tacony resident and 2012 Abraham Lincoln High School graduate, was proud that he and his friends — — with a big assist from Dorsey Playground supervisor Kristin Wisniewski — — were able to run a successful tournament with no formal training.

“We put our minds together and made it work,” he said.

The Block Gives Back has been busy this month, appearing at the Mayfair 1st & 3rd Thursday Night Markets and the National Night Out festivities at Russo Park.

On Sunday, the men helped clean and paint Dorsey Playground, Hellerman and Hegerman streets, before the heavy rain.

“We have big goals. We want to bring positive vibes and energy everywhere we go,” Roush said. “We enjoy helping people and bringing people together. We just need a lot more volunteers.”

The Block’s efforts are appreciated.

Medina’s family attended the basketball tournament, describing him as a happy-go-lucky, loving and caring young man who put a smile on people’s faces. He coached football for Holmesburg Boys Club.

Medina was shot six times by three suspects, two of whom were arrested and charged with murder. Their trial is set for April 10, 2017. The third suspect remains at large. The motive was apparently robbery, as the suspects allegedly stole his cell phone and Air Jordan sneakers.

“This is keeping his legacy going,” his mom, Dana Roberts, said of the tournament.

Team Gold, of Germantown, won the three-on-three tournament, but the players were there to remember Medina.

“They’re all Daqwan’s team,” said friend Kaitlin Rodriguez.

After the rain stopped, The Block and its supporters returned at night to Mullin to light 195 candles, one for each murder victim in Philadelphia since Medina’s death.

“He hasn’t been forgotten since he passed away. People have come to honor his loss,” said his grandmom, Deborah Harris.

The Block plans to stay active.

On Saturday, members will assist Dorsey with its annual school bag giveaway. A week later, they’ll be at Sherwood Park in West Philadelphia for a similar event.

There will be an Oct. 29 bakeoff to promote local food businesses. And in November, a tree will be planted in Medina’s memory at Mullin Playground.

“Our growth so far has been double what we expected,” said Tyreek Wanamaker, a Lincoln grad. “The future, I think, will be big.”

For more information, visit The Block Gives Back page on Facebook. ••