Coach Kelly Dupree loves sports and he loves the kids.
There’s no mistaking that.
In an effort to give Philadelphia youngsters guidance and athletic support, Dupree often robs Peter to pay Paul and they both have him against the wall when it comes to paying bills.
But there is Dupree, 51, carrying on a tradition passed down to him from others many moons ago.
“I’m just doing something that people such as Earl Harris (a former Overbrook PAL director) and (the late Herbert “Pappy”) Bowers did for me when I was growing up,” said Dupree, a former baseball, football and basketball standout at Overbrook High School. “They picked me up and took me home. They supported me. I wasn’t the only one they did that with. Guys like (former Overbrook High School basketball stars) Ricky Tucker, Lewis Lloyd, (Carlton) C-Nine Willis, we all benefited from what they did for us. I’m just carrying it on.”
Dupree is the president and CEO of Philadelphia Youth Development Corporation. It’s a year-round athletic program for youngsters three and up. The age limit varies because Dupree has counseled and advised youngsters as old as 25.
“You don’t just cut them off,” Dupree said. “A lot of times, guys get 23, 24 years old and they find themselves at a crossroads in life. I try to help them as best as I can, whether it be training for a job or advice.”
Growing up in the 300 block of North Salford Street, Dupree said he can recall neighborhood organizers such as Roland and Sydney Finger taking an interest in what he was doing.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without their support,” said Dupree, whose childhood home was one block away from where the legendary Wilt Chamberlain grew up. “All I’m doing is giving back what I received.”
Dupree’s organization boasts having several youngsters playing sports in Philadelphia schools. What he would like is to get more financial help.
“I realize that this is a difficult time, but I think our youth is a serious investment in our future,” Dupree said. “We’re trying to keep kids out of trouble. We’re providing them with opportunities to better themselves, but it’s difficult.”
The Philadelphia Youth Development Corporation (PYDC) is a non-profit organization.
“It’s a comprehensive educational and recreational athletic program (basketball, baseball, football, tennis, soccer and swimming) designed to enhance the overall quality of life for at-risk youths; with a special emphasis on African-American males and special needs Youth. Our primary objective is to provide a safe environment for participants and their families.”
According to Dupree, youngsters are taught character development, conflict resolution, violence prevention, peer mediation, abstinence, creative writing, arts & crafts. He also has the group working the Boy Scouts of America and the Urban Business Skills Academy.
But he’s not doing it by himself.
“There’s no way that I could accomplish anything without the help of my assistant coaches James Sharper, Tyrone Nelson, Denise Dorsey, James Spinelli, Lafayette and Bob Muth. They make it happen for us.”
With the help of former Overbrook, Villanova and NBA standout Wali Jones and Councilman Curtis Jones (D-4), the program is expanding. There are plans to take the program to Delaware and New Jersey. Dupree, who said Rep. Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia, has aided his endeavors, has also reached out to Denver-based Executive Money Inc. for assistance.
“The people there, Laurie Smith, a former Fox Sport reporter, Maurice Washington, the CEO and Kim Tracy, who is a career agent, have been very helpful,” Dupree said. “I’ve received some assistance from the Phillies and would like to work with the Sixers and the Eagles. I could really make a difference.”
Anyone seeking more information about Dupree or the organization can call him at (267) 482-0494.
“I realize this is a difficult time for many people,” Dupree said. “What we’re doing is investing in our future, investing in our youth. We need the support of the community to help us help our youth.”