By Stephanie Dolan
For many kids, childhood is a time of dreams and pixie dust, fantasy and fun. For others, though, fun can be more elusive than it should be.
That is where Be Your Own Hero comes in. This Southside nonprofit is dedicated to bringing the fun back to the lives of those children who don’t always have the means or the opportunity to engage in certain activities on their own.
“As a child, I feel that I missed out on a lot of opportunities just because my parents couldn’t afford before or after school programs or basketball camps,” Be Your Own Hero founder Quinton Moore said. “I know what that felt like, being excluded, and I wanted to create something so that other kids wouldn’t have to experience that. I wanted to create something regardless of race, religion or background where they felt like they belonged.”
Moore, 35, of Greenwood, said that one of the things that makes Be Your Own Hero different is that all events and activities are free.
“We don’t charge anyone anything,” he said. “Events are always free and for kids of all ages.”
Moore said another thing that makes them unique is that they encourage families to stay and hang out with their children and participate in activities.
“We had a kid whose dad was a truck driver, and one of our events was his first opportunity in three months to stay and spend time with his kids,” he said. “For some people, that’s the first interaction they’ve had for days, weeks or even months.”
Moore said that he’s hoping Be Your Own Hero ultimately will bring families closer together.
The organization is approximately two years old. They don’t currently have a building that they operate out of, but they are planning on raising funds so that they can hold events indoors during the winter months.
Currently, all activities are held in parks and other public spaces.
“We usually use the city parks around town,” Moore said. “We’ll do stuff like game day in the park and take about two hours to rent the area out to play wild and crazy games. We’ll do water wars in the summer when it’ really hot. We’ll do costume parties at Halloween. We’ll do movies in the park. Each month we try to do something fun open to any age.”
In the wintertime, the married father of three said that he and the other board members usually find a couple of families that they can support.
“We’ll find a family that we can support during Thanksgiving and provide them with groceries to make a Thanksgiving meal,” he said. “Then, in December, we’ll find one or two families we can sponsor for Christmas and buy Christmas gifts for them.”
Southside mom of three, Carrie Condon, nominated her daughter’s preschool teacher for Thanksgiving dinner.
“When I first came in contact with them, they were having a yard sale to raise money for the group,” Condon said. “I started following them on Facebook, and then I saw a post talking about doing something for someone over the holidays. They provided Thanksgiving dinner for my daughter’s preschool teacher that year.”
This past year, Condon’s family enjoyed a Halloween party put on by Be Your Own Hero.
“I took my three kids,” she said. “I like it because I’m a single mom as well. They don’t charge for their activities, but they put on really nice activities for the kids. The kids get to have fun where they might not because it’s hard to afford events for three kids. They had a costume contest and different activities. The kids loved it. The people who put it on interact with you too. You’re never made to feel less than – as if they’re doing you a favor. They want you to feel like this is something just for you. It’s not out of pity – they want to engage with you. I’m hoping that the more awareness they get out the more they’re able to do and put on for the kids.”
While Be Your Own Hero is glad to do for families during the holidays, the ultimate goal is to find a building for winter activities.
“Without a building, it makes it really difficult to do much in the winter,” Moore said. “One of our goals is to start fundraising to allow us to have some type of building where in the wintertime we can host different events and provide a safe place where kids can go even when it’s cold out. Kids go stir crazy and have cabin fever in the wintertime.”
Moore said that he and his fellow board members will be discussing a fundraising plan during their next meeting.
Fellow board member David Stater is eager to move forward with this endeavor as well. He said he has been a fan of Be Your Own Hero from the beginning.
“When Quinton started talking to me about it, what really stood out to me was that it went toward kids who didn’t have a whole lot of money,” he said. “I don’t know how expensive it is to do different things with your kids but growing up I didn’t have a whole lot and I thought the whole idea was pretty cool. There’s not a lot of options out there if you don’t have a lot of money.”
Stater, 34, said that giving back is exactly what we all should be doing.
“I think that’s kind of what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “If we’re in a position to help, even if it’s not financially, help out with your time. It means a lot to these kids. A few months ago we did an event at a roller skating rink and it was packed. Everybody is welcome. We want everybody to show up and have some fun. Even if you can afford all the fun show up and enjoy the events with us anyway.”
For more information on Be Your Own Hero, visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/beyourownheroinc.
5 questions with Quinton Moore:
What was your favorite game as a child?
My favorite game as a child was Duck, Duck, Goose.
Who inspires you?
I am Christian! My inspiration comes from Christ! He helped those in need, the sick, the poor, his community and I strive to live my life as a reflection of Christ.
What do you hope to teach your children about giving back?
I hope to teach my kids that it’s better to give than receive. True joy come from seeing the joy of others that you give to.
Do you have pets?
Yes, we have pets! Two black labs that were rescued.
What is your favorite game as an adult?
My favorite game as an adult is Uno!