The last day of school is usually punctuated by report cards, reduced traffic, and relieved teachers but for this year for residents of Elizabeth, New Jersey it was marked by the arrival of Live Civil Day 2017. Digital media mavenKaren Civilkicked off summer with a Basketball Tournament in the very neighborhood where she grew up. A self-proclaimed product of “Jefferson Avenue” Civil has been publicly vocal about her desire to create change in her community.
She fulfilled that desire by hosting a basketball tournament at the Mickey Walker Center.
She was joined in her efforts to do so by Adidas.
The global sportswear brand provided customized uniforms, backpacks, t-shirts, and sneakers to one hundred children from the three local basketball organizations represented in the tournament.
Volunteers for the event, including Kean University graduate Brianna Straws, donned the t-shirts that displayed empowering messages on the back.
One of these volunteers was Civil’s fellow Jersey native Kyle Anderson of the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA player was happy to lend his celebrity to the cause.
He posed for pictures and conversed with community leaders throughout the course of the event. He also watched Civil show off her skills.
Civil, who will be serving as the keynote speaker for tonight’s Elizabeth High School commencement ceremony and sponsors a section of a local roadway, was genuinely surprised when she was presented the key to the city.
She genuinely had no idea that she was being bestowed with the honor and she could be heard softly crying as she said thank you. Her philanthropic efforts in the city have really stood out in the often overlooked area and she is one of less than five recipients of the honor in the past twenty-five years. Previous recipients have included national heroes Lee Parker and Ivan White.
This wasn't the only honor she received a Union High School senior sought her out to show her that she'd quoted her in her yearbook.
Gatorade, Beats, The City of Elizabeth, Bellaa Works, and All Things Keeyah also contributed to the event. Bellaa Works’ Nabilah Smith, who has long been active as a junior entertainment publicist and event planner, was seen sprinting around the building to making sure everyone was accommodated the ruffles of her baby pink shirt fluttering from the activity. The City took the time to recognize her contributions noting how proud they were that despite her hectic schedule she made the time to “come home and bring some friends with her.”
Civil embraced Smith lovingly after being presented with the key prompting Smith to share a conspiratorial smile withKeeyah Johnson who also knew about the surprise.
After the presentation the festivities resumed.
Raffle winners won brand new bicycles and Adidas tee shirts.
Five attendees were given the opportunity to shoot a half court shot to win an autographed Kyrie Irving jersey.
A Jersey native himself Irving is a hero to many New Jersey children, particularly young males. One little boy was so in shock to see the player’s jersey up close that he repeatedly asked “yo that’s real?”
Outside volunteers served pizza and Gatorade while Brooklyn’s Pineapple Expressprovided everyone in attendance with chopped pineapples and fresh pineapple juice. This was a much appreciated treat on the hot and humid day.
The line literally didn’t slow down for a second but the staff showed no sign of complaint graciously continuing to work until nearly nightfall and allowing a pregnant attendee to skip the line so that she could have a seat in the shade. It was beautiful sight to everyone having fun and being thoughtful of one another.
Civil posed with two Elizabeth Police Department officers who stood out as examples of what community policing should look like.
The officers repeatedly addressed children by name and stopped to chat with parents making it clear that they were connected to the people they serve.
Never one to rest on her laurels she then spoke with community officials about her plans for future programs. The “Dream Team” may have been victorious in the basketball tournament but Karen Civil is dedicated to making sure everyone in Elizabeth feels a little bit of her success.
Learn more about Karen Civil’s professional and philanthropic efforts at LiveCivil.com