GIVING BACK: Former Kendall High School and Syracuse great Bouie creates the Bouie Foundation

By NATE RIDER | [email protected] | Sep 27, 2023

TNS File Photo Roosevelt Bouie brings down one of his nine rebounds during Syracuse’s win versus Penn State at Manley Field House on Jan. 10, 1979.David Lassman | dlassman

For the most part, Roosevelt Bouie has been known for his tremendous career on the basketball court.

The top athlete to ever come out of Kendall High School, Bouie would go on to have an outstanding basketball career at Syracuse University, before he parlayed that into a lengthy professional career overseas, further cementing himself as one of the best to ever call the local area his own.

Now, the former Eagles and Orange star forward is moving in another direction — and that is creating a non-profit organization for underprivileged youth with the Bouie Foundation.

“Both of my parents and my grandmother always had us helping out to do things when we were younger, even if it was if we saw an older person, we carried their groceries to the car,” Bouie said. “After growing up like that, I go to Syracuse University and Coach (Jim) Boeheim had us, starting freshman year, go to the terminal children’s care ward at Upstate University Medical Center. Everyone would go there and it was great. We would just play games with the kids, and I remember one of the nurses grabbed my arm and said ‘thank you so much for coming here for the kids. This is the first time I’ve seen them smile this year.’”

Fast forward to the Coaches vs. Cancer charity, working with the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation and helping out with the American Heart Association, being board member in the Genesee Region for three or four years, and Bouie has seemingly found a new calling.

The Bouie Foundation centers around two main subsets — 50 Winks and Anglers with Aspiration.

50 Winks — a nod to the old adage of 40 winks, to go with Bouie’s former number, 50 — is a community-supported program providing beds and study spaces for underprivileged children in Western New York. And it all stemmed from his work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace — a non-profit 501 organization that builds and delivers beds to children who don’t have beds to sleep in — and a conversation Bouie had with his nephew.

Bouie had been building beds for his sisters’ children for seven or eight years, but then the youngest, Preston, caught his attention.

“Uncle, when you build my bed can you build it off the floor so I get my bean bag chair under there with some lights, so I can go under there and study,” Preston said. That ended up with Bouie building a loft bed.

Long story short, that turned into Bouie and friend Jonathan Rosenfeld setting up the foundation’s not-for-profit 50 Winks, which just started assembly of beds last week.

“The most important place for me in my growth and my mental health was my room,” Bouie said. “That was my castle, that was my place to go and ponder things. And it was my bed. So I realized the importance of that.”

Bouie also turned to Zeke Leonard, the associated director of the School of Design at Syracuse University, as well as numerous other sources, including former shop teacher at Kendall George Lonnen. The Bouie Foundation has also begun to get plenty of monetary help, including from the aforementioned Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation.

With 50 Winks, children will get exclusively designed and hand-built loft beds, a free mattress and full bedding setup, a built-in desk/study area and free delivery and setup.

Anglers with Aspiration is another community-supported program focused providing free education on the sport of fishing to youth in Western New York and providing inner city youth opportunities to be inspired to practice the sport of fishing.

An avid fisherman, Bouie began to hit the water four to five times during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led him to want to introduce the sport and the opportunities that can come out of it to children and he would do with the support and guidance of friend and member of the pro tour, Guy Cromp.

Because the area is well-known for its fishing, they set up the following program, which included — Fishing 101, fishing with live bait from the shore; 201, fishing with artificial bait from the shore; 301, your choice, either live bait or artificial from the boat; 401, learn how to drive the boat, launch the boat, read the graphs; 501, we put you on the path to become a professional fisherman or you can become a mentor back into our program.

“I kept doing this because it was the right thing to do,” Bouie said. “And finally I said that I was going to find something that I was passionate about and the whole time that I was away in Europe, what I was missing was my four sisters having kids. So, to get back in contact with all of them, I would take them all fishing. When I would take them out fishing, they would tell me in an hour’s time, everything that happened in a whole year.”

The Bouie Foundation also has a program with Bass Pro Shops in Auburn to bring in a big pool and fill it with trout and have kids fish at any age without having to get into the water.

“I’ve spent a year and half working on this program because one of the big sponsors said ‘everyone has great ideas but not everybody puts it down in writing and now is a good time to put it down in writing,’” Bouie said. states the following:

Our mission strives to provide underprivileged and financially challenged youth of Western and Central New York with dedicated personal bed and dedicated personal study spaces which are vital to the healthy development and successful education of our most vulnerable youth aged community members.

Additionally, our mission strives to expose youth of all races, genders and orientations and abilities to the joy and rewards of the sport of fishing by providing free education on the skills, techniques and equipment used by professional and amateur anglers to the youth of Western and Central New York.

Our work aims to help cultivate self-generated aspiration to develop a life-long love of, education, fishing, and aspirations to become community leaders, role models for diversity, unity, tolerance, friendship with the ability challenged, and prejudice free peer ship within the youth of Western and Central New York.

Bouie played at Syracuse for Coach Boeheim from 1976-80 and eventually would have his No. 50 retired by the school. He would eventually be a second-round pick (34th overall) of the Dallas Mavericks, though he would opt for a 12-year career in Italy, where he averaged a double-double of 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

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