Elias is 10, almost 11. He has straight, spiky hair, and the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. He is also full of energy and almost never walks when he can run. His favorite color is blue. His favorite food is pizza. His favorite sport? Basketball, and everybody knows it.
We first met Elias when he was 5 years old. He came to Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center in the first few weeks after it opened and quickly made TTNC part of his daily routine.
Everyone at the center knows Elias. He’s warm and friendly, and happy to share his love of sports with anyone and everyone. Even though Elias could outrun any of the kids at the center, he’ll slow down to help coach a younger player or show them how to guard the ball from the opposing team. Everyone always wants to be on Elias’ team.
At home, Elias plays a different game. There aren’t clear rules like there are in basketball, and the people on his team sometimes feel more like opponents. Elias lives with his mom, stepdad, younger half-brother and a baby sister. He will proudly tell anyone who will listen that his little brother wants to be just like him.
What Elias doesn’t like to talk about are the number of times he has had to move, or how tired he is the morning after his mom and stepdad have had a big fight, or the reason he runs up to meet the shuttle van — that it’s the first meal he’ll eat that day.
Since the pandemic began, his parents’ fears around not being able to pay rent haven’t gone away; neither have their loud fights, or their crowded apartment, and neither has Elias’ love of basketball.
A few weeks ago, our food delivery team was stopped outside a row of apartments when they saw a familiar head of spiky black hair tossing a basketball in the driveway. It was Elias.
His smile was a mile wide. The delivery team was smiling too. We had all been missing Elias’ smile, his positivity, and his can-do attitude. We added his address to the delivery route, and ever since have been dropping off bags of groceries for Elias and his family. We want to see Elias succeed, and while we can’t be sure when we will see him at Theresa Terrace again, we can continue to support his growth by providing meals to him and his family.
Last week, his baby sister celebrated her fourth birthday. We made sure their delivery included a little something special to celebrate with cupcakes for the whole family.
We hope we can always be there to help kids like Elias with opportunities to thrive and be their best selves, and to celebrate each step along the way. We can’t wait to get Elias and his team playing basketball and running through the halls of Theresa Terrace Neighborhood Center again. Until then, we will continue working to provide opportunities for children like Elias.
Please consider making a donation to support the work that is helping children like Elias.