Basketball player volunteers time to community by combining his passion with the Out of the Garden Project

Published on: April 23, 2024
Sameer Qureshi holds a box of food at the Out of the Garden Fresh Mobile Market.
Sameer Qureshi spends his time volunteering in the greater Greensboro and High Point community.


Sameer Qureshi has been an involved member of the Guilford Technical Community College student body in his time here. More than that, though, Qureshi has played a big role in the larger Triad area.

In the summer of 2023, Qureshi volunteered with a local YMCA to coach an adult basketball league. As a player on GTCC’s basketball team, Qureshi was able to bring his skills as a player into his new role as coach.

“I felt like I was working towards achieving my short-term and long-term goals,” said Qureshi. “I was helping myself grow in addition to helping them grow. I also wanted to give back to the community, and it was a fun way to volunteer.”

Being coach for a summer season was beneficial in more ways than one for Qureshi. In learning what it is to be a coach, Qureshi was able to form a stronger bond with his GTCC basketball coach and college Athletic Director, Kirk Chandler.

“First and foremost, it gave me a lot more respect for my coach. Before I volunteered, I had my own assumptions on coaching, but after that experience I realized that he does so much for our team behind the scenes that we don’t even know,” explained Qureshi.

“It’s always gratifying for a coach to see the growth and development of a player from one year to the next. That was definitely the case with Sameer,” said Chandler. “He played behind some veterans his freshman year, but never wavered from working hard in practice daily.”

Qureshi also explained that he was able to better understand the game itself when viewing it from a coaching perspective. He began to understand the importance of a team working together instead of individual players trying to lead the team to victory.

“I learned that you can be the best player or shooter, but that we also need great communicators and team players. It comes down to attitude and communication, not just skill,” said Qureshi. “So now when I play, I think, ‘What does coach need?’ and not, ‘What does Sameer need?’”

“Sameer’s chance to do some coaching in a summer league shaped his mindset toward seeing the game as a whole as he moved into his sophomore season. His understanding of different aspects of the game improved, and the results were noticeable,” explained Chandler of Qureshi’s progress as player.

That summer, Qureshi went a step further to help his community when he decided to sponsor a Fresh Mobile Market through the Out of the Garden Project, a nonprofit organization (NPO) that aims to eliminate food insecurity in our local communities. Qureshi has volunteered with the NPO in the past but wanted to do more to help.

Fresh Mobile Markets are free food pantries that provide fresh produce, shelf-stable items, bread, and meat to families and individuals in need. Families drive up in their vehicles and collect the food at no cost to them.

GTCC sponsors a monthly Fresh Mobile Market on the High Point and Greensboro campuses. David Pittman, Ph.D., associate vice president of student retention and completion at GTCC, oversees the Fresh Mobile Markets. Since August 2023, GTCC has given out over 42,000 pounds of food and helped nearly 3,000 individuals in need, children included.

“[High Point] has one of the poorest zip codes in the state, and we’re in a food desert,” said Pittman. “When people thank us, they are truly genuine. You can tell by the look in their eyes, their voice, and the expression on their face that this is helpful for them.”

Qureshi saw how successful the Fresh Mobile Markets were, and with the help of family, friends, and acquaintances, he was able to fundraise $1,000 to pay the sponsorship fee for his own Fresh Mobile Market. He explained that working with the Out of the Garden Project has been an overwhelmingly easy and positive experience.

“It feels good to help people who are less fortunate,” said Qureshi. “It puts a smile on their face, and there’s nothing better than that.”

Qureshi has also enlisted his personal, recreational basketball team to help with his Out of the Garden Project efforts. His team has volunteered with him at other Fresh Mobile Markets.

“I kind of killed two birds with one stone, because we were able to volunteer and give back while also bonding as a team,” explained Qureshi. “We’re all Pakistani, and we have a dream to bring basketball to the Pakistani community. We want to inspire people in our community to know that they can also play basketball.”

Growing up, Qureshi didn’t have a lot of basketball role models that looked like him. According to Qureshi, there are not a lot of Pakistani men in professional basketball, but he hopes to become a role model in his community and show others that anything is possible.

After Qureshi graduates from GTCC in May 2024, he plans to continue combining his passions to further help his community. Originally from High Point, he plans to transfer to a four-year university outside of his hometown to get his bachelor’s degree and to continue playing basketball.

“My academics are very important to me, and eventually I’d like to get to a level of professional basketball. I also want to inspire the next generation of Muslim and Pakistani athletes,” said Qureshi. “I’m looking to branch out from HP, and when I move, I for sure want to continue volunteering, no matter what community I’m a part of.”

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