Wednesday I met a remarkable young man. Dewayne Lucas Jr. was at the annual Target Back-to-School Shopping Spree Wednesday, when Target gives 60 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs gift cards to buy their school supplies. The Lucas family is a loyal supporter of the North Mabee Boys and Girls Club. For the Shopping Spree, the parent’s financial information is carefully reviewed to determine which kids have the greatest need. Most of the kids from the clubs meet a volunteer chaperone at the store because their parents aren’t available to help them shop.But Dewayne works the overnight shift at a factory, so he chaperoned his own son, Dewayne III, age 8.
I guess a politician would argue that since Dewayne Jr. works but still qualifies for help he is part of the “working poor,” but I’m not a politician, so I don’t know. This I do know: Dewayne Jr. is a bargain shopper. Not only was he able to buy all of his son’s school supplies with his card, he also bought Dewayne III a pair of nice shorts and a shirt on sale.
Dewayne Jr. said his son was a very good student and was chosen twice last year as “Student of the Month” at Cooper Elementary. Dewayne Jr. has been volunteering for four years as a coach for the North Mabee Mustangs football program. He and his wife Eleice also have a daughter, Sydnee, age 3. Eleice works at Avis. Dewayne Jr. is a family man with a full-time job who volunteers in his community and cares for his kids during the day. Does the man ever sleep? “Only for a few hours,” he said, “I don’t need too much.”
It is easy for all of us to listen to the media that tells us that the people who receive help don’t appreciate it, or don’t work hard to change their situations. It is equally important, great really, to hear about the people who get assistance but also volunteer, work hard and raise a family. Dewayne Jr. is no stereotype; he is a person, and a welcome part of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club family. Now let’s give some of those negative stereotypes a rest – and appreciate the families who don’t fit them.