If you drive south on Main Street out of Dayton you eventually will find Bill’s Donuts. A south Dayton establishment and mainstay on any Best Doughnuts list. Drive a little farther south on Main Street/Far HIlls/St Rt 48 and you come to Chevy Chase Apartments in Centerville. With a little over 200 apartments this enclave Centerville residents is often overlooked.
More than 400 kids, school age and younger, live in those 200 apartments and many are short of adult role models and attention. It is estimated that the majority of these kids are in single parent households or households where both parents, or grandparents, work to make ends meet.
Lisa Tucker, daughter of Bill’s Donuts namesake, Bill Elam, decided she should get involved there. So last summer she called a few friends, grabbed some hotdogs, chips and plenty of doughnuts and set out to make some friends on the playground. This summer she, assisted by employees, friends and various church groups, delivered lunch and fun to kids every Monday of their summer break. For 9 consecutive Monday’s she brought lunch, some entertainment and adults to hangout on the playground in the middle of the Chevy Chase courtyard.
I had the privilege of spending two Monday lunch hours with the kids and Lisa. When I asked her about the kids she simply said “these are great kids, they just want someone to hangout, play kickball, push them on the swing and listen.” So that is what I did, assisted with a few magic tricks to break the ice, I simply hung out and played.
Today I witnessed a Centerville Police officer, full uniform, 90 degrees playing kickball with about a dozen of the kids. Assisted by City Councilman Brooks Compton, volunteers and a Bill’s employee, the kids got a full hour of kickball with new friends. I figure more was done to understand these kids in 4 innings of kickball that can ever be attained by a commissioned study or committee investigation.
While taking pictures it became clear to me that peace in our community and communication between folks in the cul-de-sacs and the folks in large apartment complexes doesn’t have to be complicated. All you have to do is show up and toss the ball.
Today 50 kids are happier because they got a hot dog, a balloon animal, a doughnut and some playtime with folks who just wanted to hang out. Easy as that.
Do you know someone who’s making a difference in the Dayton region? Someone who gives of their time and talent to make our community a better place? An unsung hero that is quietly making an effort to make someone’s life a little better? Nominate them as a DMM Difference Maker and we’ll honor them and share their story. Send us an email with their story.