by Kevin Epps
Golden State Warriors ex-NBA player Festus Ezali hosted the 10th Annual Thanksgiving Supper and Turkey Giveaway presented by the Bayview YMCA Family Resource Center. This event took place on Sunday, Nov. 19, from 2:45 to 4:00 p.m. at the Bayview YMCA, where more than 200 families came out.
It’s so good to see all the kids, youth and seniors, full of excitement in a community oftentimes forgotten. “Look how the community came out,” exclaimed Tacing Parker, executive director at the Bayview Y. “This is an example of how others can give back.”
I caught up with Festus as he was waiting to be led into the gym, where the event was about to take place. With him were his Mom, Dad and cousin, all who traveled from Nigeria for this special event. Another celebrity in attendance was rapper and community activist Mistah FAB with his daughter, Libby.
Repeating my question out loud, Festus said, “Why is it important to be in communities like this?
“I think that I have to answer that question with how this whole thing started,” he explained. “It started with me doing events with the kids, and when I did it with the kids, I remember we had so much fun. The kids were amazing, great energy!
“And afterwards they were trying to get me to come to the YMCA in Bayview Hunters Point and I said yeah, I’ll pull up, and I remember their reaction. They, the kids, said: ‘Yeah, you guys (professional athletes, entertainers) say you’re gonna come, but you never show up.’
“I thought that that was really important. There was just this mindset that the people that make it don’t ever come back, and I thought it was really important for me to show up for these kids so that they understand we all care. Yes, we’re all fighting and doing the things we’re doing – we’re trying to go build and do more – but we have to also take care of the kids and help them get to where we are.
“So I think the idea of coming back to underserved communities is that we have to show them that we care, show them that we are fighting for them, show them that we are real. They gotta be able to touch us and know that our stories are real, give them something to dream about. That’s why I think it’s important for us to show up over here – and keep doing it!”
This is the 10th consecutive year Festus has hosted and supported this event, and, for his efforts, he will be presented with a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office as a token of appreciation. “Giving back is just a part of who we are,” he affirmed while wearing an apron and gloves, serving food and frequently pausing to smile for photos.
“It started right there,” said Festus, nodding toward his Mother in admiration.
Mr. FAB, who Festus referred to as his brother, was there helping with his daughter, Libby, who was volunteering by serving food. “I definitely want to help my brother Festus out,” Mr. FAB said with conviction. “I’m very supportive of what he’s doing – to be someone from outside the community, yet he comes back in; that says a lot.
“It will be very motivating to other professional athletes, entertainers and influencers. Where you are not just showing up but spending time and allocating resources and other things of that nature shows a lot. So when he asked me to accompany him, it was a no brainer.”
The event consisted of a dinner, a short film, fashion show, and more to support the Bayview community. Additionally, some of the families in attendance will be invited to a Warriors game to meet and greet Festus at a later date.
Festus says he will continue to show up. He is now a retired NBA player, who won a championship with the Warriors in 2015, sports analyst for NBC Sports and ambassador for the Golden State Warriors.
Kevin Epps is a Dad, an award-winning filmmaker, community activist and executive editor of the SF Bay View “National Black Newspaper.” Reach him at email@example.com.
P.S. I started delivering this newspaper as a 10-year-old – my first job, a paperboy – so it’s an honor to bring this legacy institution back to the roots, to where it all started, in Bayview Hunters Point, 94124, born out of the events of its time, especially the 1966 Hunters Point Uprising. Let’s go forward with a Black-to-the-future state of mind. All power to the people! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.