The last time Andrew Lovedale ’09 appeared in the Davidson Journal, he was pictured surrounded by mountains of athletic shoes, strewn across the Duke Family Performance Hall stage and collected under the auspices of Lovedale’s “Kicks from ’Cats” charity initiative.
Lovedale was about to embark on a journey to deliver the shoes to children in Nigeria, his country of origin. At the time, he didn’t realize that the trip would change his life.
“I believe every child has a basic right to dream and play. Location and economic status shouldn’t influence that,” says Andrew Lovedale ’09, former Davidson basketball stand-out and founder of the nonprofit organization Access to Success (A2S).
Lovedale recently retired from playing professional basketball in Europe to dedicate himself full-time to A2S, a Christian-based educational organization located in Benin City, Nigeria. Under his direction, A2S has grown in a few short years to provide an afterschool program for children ages three to 16—complete with music, drama, arts and crafts, mentorship and help with homework—hot meals, a library full of books, an annual basketball and empowerment camp, and more. A computer center is next on the priority list.
Lovedale’s work is personal; he embraces it as a calling. Noting that 92 percent of Nigerians live on less than two dollars per day, he remembers the devastation his family faced in the wake of his father’s unexpected death. Reduced to one income, the family of eight moved from a home with multiple rooms to a two-room compound.
“After losing my dad things got very difficult,” he says. “I saw my mum sell jewelry she’d acquired over a lifetime to put me through school and put food on the table, until she had nothing left to sell.”
Almost 15 years later, Lovedale’s life looks drastically different. He now lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Molly McQuillen ’07, and dedicates his time to building a “community of people paying it forward.”
That community includes the children who benefit from A2S programs and scholarships. Scholarship recipients, whether they travel outside of Nigeria or remain in the country for their schooling, are expected to volunteer with A2S.
“That’s important for me personally,” Lovedale says. “For the kids in our afterschool program we’ve created a service day where once a week they look for a problem they will fix.” Most recently, the children got together and renovated their classrooms with funding from A2S. “A kid carrying a bucket of sand doesn’t seem like a lot, but a hundred buckets is a lot,” Lovedale says.
Lovedale’s journey to Davidson by way of basketball and Coach Bob McKillop is the stuff of dreams, and his current station as the executive of a nonprofit improbable. But his goal—to build something sustainable—keeps him learning, fundraising, innovating and creating possibilities for children an ocean away. To learn more about A2S, visit http://a2sfoundation.org.