More than a ball
Jehrique and his mom, Viola, have had a very rough several years, but the care and services they found at St. Vincent de Paul through the nonprofit's Resource Center has brought some peace to their lives. They've received help with finding housing, paying for utilities and part of the rent. They've also received food boxes. What they never expected was help with a basketball.
Jehrique is a very quiet kid and extremely polite. So it felt extra important when he recently shared with SVdP's Resource Center Director Cherylyn Strong and Homelessness Prevention Manager Jackie Solares that he was having trouble making friends because he didn't have a basketball to bring to the park.
"Understanding then, that owning a basketball is crucial to making friends at 13 years old," Cherylyn said, "I came back to SVdP with no higher calling than finding the best, most respectable ball on this planet.
"It took a village to make that happen."
First, Cherylyn and Jackie found a leftover basketball from the Christmas toys from last year, but upon showing it to Frank Villegas, manager of SVdP's Bike Shop, he quickly denounced it as, "Junk!"
"Oh my, now what?" Cherylyn thought to herself. Just as she was starting to despair, they ran into Irma Leyendecker, SVdP's director of mission advancement. They explained the situation to Irma, who told them that SVdP's Family Evening Meal Program Manager Cindy Bernardo would be able to help.
They looped Cindy into their quest, who eagerly told them she had exactly what they needed in a storage area for her programming.
"After Irma found what we thought to be a respectable brand, I proudly went back to Frank who approved the selection and promptly filled it with air," Cherylyn said.
The next day, Cherylyn and Krashanda Cleveland, SVdP's manager of Social Work Services, went to see Viola while Jehrique was at school to deliver the ball and check on the family.
"The joy in [Viola]'s face was overwhelming as she told Krashanda and me that she was going to hide the ball and surprise him."
Now Jehrique has what he needs — a home, some food, and a basketball for pickup games with friends at the park.
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