Resident Finds A House

Former Harmony House resident finds a home and visits Australia on a sponsored trip for all-stars

Marcus Stapleton, a former Harmony House resident and former football standout, returned from a trip to Australia with reports of sacks, tackles and fun. Stapleton’s family moved from the transitional living facility for homeless families after a long stay.

He went to Australia after he was nominated to play in the Down Under Bowl. It is a tournament for outstanding high school football players from across the United States. Games between all-star American high school teams took place in Hawaii and in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia.

Stapleton’s trip was paid for largely by caring people that contributed toward the $3,000 cost of the two-week trip. New Community helped raise and coordinate donations.

“I thank everyone for sponsoring me and for helping me go down there,” Stapleton said. “I enjoyed seeing another way of life in Australia and interacting with players from all over the country.”

Although Stapleton’s team lost, he returned with three sacks and 10 tackles under his belt. He also reported that he was planning to attend Grambling University to play college football.

Stapleton had a rocky start in football that included suspensions for undisciplined play. He said he grew into a team player under the wing of his coach, Marion Bell.

When news that Stapleton’s play at East Orange High School was so good that he had earned a nomination for the Down Under Bowl, New Community began helping him raise donations to cover the cost of the trip to Hawaii and Australia.

“We’re so proud of Marcus,” said Harmony House Director Diane Young-Garrett, who worked closely with both Stapleton and his mother.

Stapleton said he was disappointed that his team didn’t distinguish itself in Australia, but said he enjoyed the opportunity to play.

He is actually one of a number of young people that has lived at Harmony House and done well. Another young, former Harmony House resident, Ishmail Samad, attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. Samad’s sister was an honor roll student that traveled to London as a Student Ambassador. Several other young Harmony House residents are either on the honor roll or are distinguishing themselves academically.

Up to 200 children and teenagers can live at Harmony House, many of them in households struggling to overcome long odds that can include domestic violence and substance abuse.

Stapleton said that he was looking forward to going to school in Louisiana and starting another chapter in his life, and added that the trip to Australia was a good introduction to life away from Newark.

“There was a lot of vacation involved in addition to football,” Stapleton, who had only once in his life traveled outside the Newark area. “I have to say that I enjoyed myself.”