The architect from Tucson is being pulled again to assist younger males transfer ahead

FORT MYERS, Florida – Ted Sottong decided to cut back on his career as an architect and said there was a question on his mind.


“What will people think?” Sottong recalls.

But he did it anyway.

Almost ten years later, the step of looking after young men developed into a completely new task.

According to Sottong, Pickup the Ball, Inc. began with simple conversations on basketball courts in Fort Myers.

“They told me what they needed. I thought, ‘I think I can help with some of these things,’ ”he tells FOX 4.

That “stuff,” Sottong says, often included tutorials on life skills like creating a résumé, getting a home, and buying a car.

Courtesy Pickup the Ball, Inc.

Ted says that most of the boys he’s worked with want to excel in life.

“They’re ready to do the job. They just don’t necessarily know how to do it.”

That’s why he founded Pickup the Ball, Inc. in 2012.

The nonprofit uses a passion for basketball to create connections and support for life outside the field.

The group meets once a week.

Sometimes they travel to local companies and organizations.

Local leaders and influencers from the Tucson community are often greeted in meetings

Courtesy Pickup the Ball, Inc.

In other cases, the meetings are informal – filled with a good meal and relaxed conversation about life.

Alexander Michel, 16, is a sophomore of Lehigh Senior High School.

He has attended weekly meetings at Pickup the Ball, Inc. for the past several months.

“We talk about stress, we talk about our weaknesses and strengths. It makes you want to go on and think things positively, ”says Michel.

The creation of this space for local boys is partly rooted in Sottong’s upbringing.

The Maryland-born father said his father played a key role in ensuring his family had memories, time, and support for a lifetime.

One of the effects Sottong says still affects him today.

“My father is still an important factor in my life when it comes to my direction and what I have to do.”

That’s the kind of support Sottong wants to provide to Pickup the Ball, Inc. attendees.

Nearly ten years after its inception, the nonprofit’s mission expands to include temporary housing in Fort Myers.

“It’s an acknowledgment of a problem we’ve seen over time,” says Sottong.

This problem varies, but includes young men 18 and older who yearn for independence – only to realize that sometimes it’s more difficult than initially thought.

Sottong explains that they often find that they are financially unprepared.

He says sometimes they are employed but some or all of the money goes into their household.

For some of the young men, they are surrounded by what Sottong calls “negative influences”.

Sometimes, he says, they are homeless and have nowhere to go.

That’s why he’s working to meet these challenges.

Sottong is renovating a former doctor’s office on Broadway Avenue in Fort Myers into a 12-room guesthouse.

The organization is expanding to help young men transition into adulthood

Courtesy Pickup the Ball, Inc.

The aim is to help younger men transition to independence while receiving support.

In addition to the pension, the participants attend courses that are offered in-house.

While laying the foundations for the organization to evolve, Sottong says it is all about helping young men transition from one phase of their life to another.

He does not hesitate to emphasize that this is also a temporary accommodation.

“That way we can give them the boot to get them out of there and get them to do it.”

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