Today I have two really good people (doing good things) to share with you. Both are what we sometimes refer to as ‘senior citizens,’ but that hasn’t stopped them or even slowed them down!
Every morning, Tracey Mason Sr. rises from the bed he keeps in the back room of his boxing gym and greets the day with optimism and determination.
Tracey grew up in this Wichita, Kansas, neighborhood, and like many area youths, he fell into a life of crime early on. He went to prison for 10 long years, so he knows firsthand how difficult it is to stay on track when you’re surrounded by bad influences. That’s why, after he was released, he returned to his hometown to become a good influence for other at-risk children.
“I became a granddad, so I had to look myself in the face and ask ‘is granddad going to be helping feed someone, helping clothe somebody, or is he going to be somebody taking food from somebody’s mouth?’”
So Tracey opened CHD (Condition, Heart, Discipline) Boxing Club, a safe place for both kids and adults, and began promoting his “gloves over guns” philosophy in his community.
Tracey looks back at his own difficult youth and realizes he threw away so much potential. He can’t sit back and let today’s teens follow in those same footsteps. He also recognizes the poverty and need in the people who visit his gym, and he strives to meet those needs in spite of financial hardships of his own.
Meeting needs is important to Tracey. When he started the gym, he noticed right away that youth often showed up hungry and without proper clothing or footwear. Now, every morning, Tracey wheels out a rack of used clothing that he’s collected from thrift shops and donations.
“It’s a horrible feeling to be without shoes and clothes and coats, especially coats in the wintertime.”
He also joined forces with a local food bank to provide a pantry for the hungry.
“I used to coach at other gyms and I would see youth come in all the time and they were hungry,” he added. “So I made up my mind that I would have food available for those that don’t have food at home, because it’s hard to be able to be a good human being, a sound-thinking human being, if you’re hungry.”
When he’s not working his regular full-time job or coaching at the gym, Tracey can be found wandering the neighborhood and picking up trash. Not only is he trying to instill pride in his community, but he’s also on the lookout for any trouble brewing. If he finds a fight in progress, he brings them back to CHD to duke it out in the ring. On the weekends, he’s often at local football games, hoping to intervene before gangs can recruit teens from the sidelines.
Everywhere he can, he places himself between the danger and youth. He doesn’t do it for money, praise, or recognition; he does it because he wants to help others avoid making the same mistakes he did.
“I just really believe that if we’re kind to each other, if we care for each other, that if we treat each other with mutual respect, that a lot of the things we have issue with will just go away.”
Tracey has done so much for the youths in his neighborhood. I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to watch this video … I think you’ll fall in love with Tracey Mason!
And now let’s hop across the big pond and meet Beryl Carr …
Eighteen years ago, Beryl Carr was picking up the pieces after losing her husband. She was in her late 70s at the time, so she moved to London, England, to start a new life closer to family. Her daughter began calling around in search of volunteer jobs to keep Beryl occupied and get her out of the house, settling on a cashier position at Friends Cafe in Ealing Hospital.
“I started volunteering here when I moved down to London after my husband died, and I didn’t know anyone or anything, and this was my lifeline.”
She fit in with the other volunteers and staff members right away, and she quickly became a fixture in the cafe. These days, people will come into the cafe just to see her and say hello, and she’s known for her cheery smile, endless energy, and spunky personality.
As for Beryl, she said the “friendship and the camaraderie” are her main reasons for sticking with the volunteer job for so long, but she also loves feeling like she’s helping others. Says Dr. Pooja Dassan, a regular at the café …
“It’s absolutely amazing. I’ve been at Ealing Hospital coming up to nine years now, and Beryl has been there, and Beryl is always here when we come at lunch for a cup of coffee. And she’s always there with a smile, and pre-Covid, often a hug as well. And I think she’s a complete inspiration. Many of us look at her, she’s always got a smile on her face, a swagger as she walks.”
The cafe always makes a big deal out of celebrating Beryl’s birthday, and they went all out for her 100th in January! The grandma said she had “a big party,” followed by several smaller parties. “It’s been going nonstop for the past week,” she added with a laugh.
So far, one of the biggest thrills of turning 100 has been receiving a card from Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.
Beryl has no interest in retiring any time soon. In fact, her volunteer job is a huge part of what’s keeping her so young and spry!
“I’m not ready to put my feet up yet, I’ve got a lot more volunteering to do. I’ll be carrying on as long as I can.”