Success Spotlight: Desmond Perry
Another example of Shell Houston Open Dollars at work
Acres Home Youth Association
Frank Perry, his wife Alesheia and their children, 18-year-old Renay, 11-year-old Alyssa, and 7-year-old Desmond, recently moved to a new home in Kingwood. So it is a bit surprising to find all of them one Monday night gathered in the gymnasium of Charles R. Drew Academy near Acres Homes. The reason for the trip? They have all come to cheer on Desmond in his basketball game, just one of many extracurricular activities offered by the Acres Home Youth Association (AHYA).
Acres Homes is a wooded urban/inner-city community in northwest Houston. According to Michael Burton, founder of the AHYA, the organization’s mission is to impact and empower future generations by providing positive extracurricular alternatives that promote personal, social and academic development for youth of a certain “less-fortunate” populous, both male and female.
“The AHYA is the surgical area where critical attention is given to uncover ‘diamonds in the rough,’” he says. “Eighty-five percent of the children we serve are products of single-parent homes with very limited finances. Just because children are underserved does not mean that they are undeserving.”
The AHYA has been one of the Shell Houston Open core charities for five years. Donations are the main vehicle for implementing all programs for youth and parents alike, helping to provide equipment and uniforms for sports programs, educational tools, classes and seminars and field trips for academic programs.
“It is both the financial fuel and the family fastener,” Michael says. “The money provides passage across the bridge that separates exposure from expansion.”
As residents of the Acres Home area until recently, the entire Perry family became involved with the AHYA a few years ago. It began when Desmond started showing interest in sports at age 3 and joined the AHYA’s T-Ball team. Frank decided to coach the T-Ball team, and then became coach of the flag football team when Desmond started playing. Today, Desmond plays for the AHYA basketball team.
“Desmond just really took to it right away, and he loves having a chance to shine out there,” says Frank. “He looks forward to the games and is proud to tell everyone he plays for a team. It lights him up.”
Desmond and Frank are not the only family members who enjoy AHYA activities. Following in the footsteps of her younger brother, Alyssa decided she wanted to start playing sports and began playing for the T-Ball and basketball teams.
“I had never really thought about getting my daughters involved in sports,” says Frank. “I thought they should focus on academics. But Alyssa loves being part of the teams too.”
Their oldest daughter, Renay, is part of the AHYA’s Sister Circle program. The program mentors young women and encourages self-esteem by teaching them how to take care of themselves and proper etiquette. They also host events featuring speakers on topics of interest to young women. Alyssa has also become involved with the program, and sometimes Alesheia joins her two daughters in Sister Circle activities.
Though the Perry family recently moved to Kingwood, they remain very active with the AHYA and its programs.
“It is like a YMCA for the community,” Frank says. “It empowers children and gives them a sense of belonging.”