As a high school basketball all-star, Allen “Duffy” Samuels had opportunity to not become a statistic. Basketball was his ticket to travel throughout the U.S. and abroad as a collegiate and professional player. With the news of spiraling despair and hopelessness of the youth in his old community, he knew something needed to be done. He designed Duffy’s Hope, Inc., in 1998, to serve youth with mentoring, prevention and intervention programming. His vision for the organization is to provide youth encouragement to reach their full potential, by getting them off the streets and on paths to better futures.
To offset delinquent behaviors, the Helping Our young People to Excel (H.O.P.E.) program provides mentoring, prevention, social enrichment and academic support to area youth. The H.O.P.E. program, staffed 100% by volunteers, is all about one-on-one time spent between the volunteer and the young person doing things they enjoy. It encourages parental involvement by cultivating family participation in school, sports, and community activities. The weekly group sessions involving structured activities ranging from field trips to open forum “rap sessions” foster the culture-based program designed to the meet the needs of at risk youth, their families and their communities to promote well-rounded success. H.O.P.E. focuses on the student while working to strengthen families and communities with a “whatever-it takes”approach.
Students, families and communities have been truly impacted by Duffy Samuels. Students in the H.O.P.E. program are exposed to weekly information sessions regarding life skills, etiquette, safe relationships, conflict resolution, healthy lifestyles and anger management. Schoolwork is the focus of the programming; the majority of the students are referred from single-parent homes or are being raised by grandparents. Many are overcoming school challenges; most reside in neighborhoods with high crime rates. All of our students now dream of a better future with the influence of Duffy Samuels.
Upon acceptance, Duffy works with the entire family. He has designed the programs to promote success, safety and performance in the home, school and community. He encourages mentors to serve with the “whatever it takes” approach. In many instances, Duffy is the father figure youth are missing in their lives. His “whatever-it-takes” approach often has him on the streets looking for youth while the rest of us are fast asleep. The students who typically run from their parents find refuge, respect and a safe haven in Duffy. Parents have commented that he knows more about the lives of their children then they know. His knack of presenting the viewpoint of both perspectives builds better relationships between youth, parents and communities. As a volunteer, he spends countless hours away from his family in his attempt to provide a helping hand for youth to reach their full potential.
Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Allen “Duffy” Samuels graduated from Glasgow High School in 1992. Following high school, he earned an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Hagerstown Junior College in Maryland. With an avid aspiration to continue his education, he transferred to Old Dominion University where he was awarded a Division I basketball scholarship. Duffy excelled as a star player and determined student; he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services and Counseling.
Upon graduation, Duffy played professional basketball in Europe. While overseas, he had the opportunity to play with teams representing several different countries on the professional circuit. After six years of a grueling touring schedule, he returned to the United States where he played with the Harlem Globetrotters for a year. Samuels has since been recognized for his dedication and commitment to the community; accolades include AIDS Delaware Promoting AIDS Awareness Award (2005); Hagerstown Junior College Sports Hall of Fame (2005); Wilmington Hope Commission Youth Leadership Committee Chair ( 2005-2006); Mother African Union Church, “In The Spirit of Hope” Award (2006); Police Athletic League Community Service Award (2006). Additionally, Duffy was recognized by Bank of America as a Local Hero (2010); Black Achievers (2011); the Build The Village Award (2011); FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (2012); City Of Wilmington “Wilmington Award” (2012); Manna Christian Fellowship Church Emerging Leader Honoree (2013); The Markevic A. Johnson Educational Foundation “Man of Distinction” Award (2013).
Duffy’s Hope, Inc. operates on Duffy’s original vision to provide a helping hand to unlock a youth’s full potential. Most recently, for his work with Duffy’s Hope, Inc., Duffy joins The News Journal’s list of 25 Who Matter, a series recognizing unsung heroes who have strengthened the community through their service. Duffy’s Hope, Inc. was recognized by DelawareBlack.com as Delaware’s best non-profit organization in 2009, 2010, and 2012. Duffy’s Hope, Inc. was recognized by DelawareBlack.com as Delaware’s best yearly community event in 2010.