Santa Maria established a Family Center in Lower Price Hill in 1987 to provide youth a safe place to go after school to have fun and hang out with friends in a supportive atmosphere. In 2016, the center moved into the former Boys and Girls Club location at 2312 Glenway Avenue, and became the Joe Williams Family Center (JWFC). For the past decade, before and after the move, there has been one constant – volunteer, Terry Walls.
Terry has spent most of his life in Lower Price Hill and loves being able to give back to the community. He performs a plethora of tasks for the Youth Development Program at Santa Maria Community Services (SMCS), including regularly taking the trash and recycling bins in and out, sweeping up leaves, pulling weeds, and shoveling snow.
Terry does all of this even after a car accident in the 1980s made him a paraplegic. Even though he cannot feel his legs, he has learned how to get around using crutches. Once he was able to that, he said, he could start doing everything. That includes helping with maintenance inside and outside the JWFC, painting and trim work, and assisting in completely remodeling the Center’s kitchen.
“Terry’s strengths include his positive attitude, giving spirit, perseverance, and strong work-ethic,” said Jessica Polzin, Santa Maria Youth Development Program Coordinator. Everyone at JWFC is fond of Terry and appreciates his efforts, she said. Terry is just as fond of Santa Maria staff. “I work around a bunch of great people here at the Family Center. There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for them,” he said.
“Terry is always displaying the idea that it’s better to give than to receive,” Jessica said. “He is a constant reminder for me that kindness is the overarching way to connect with others.” Danny Burridge, Youth Development Program Director at JWFC, echoes Jessica’s admiration. Terry has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, he said. “He’s always trying to chat, engage, and help out in whatever ways he can.”
The JWFC staff hopes Terry will continue to volunteer and make their days brighter. Danny said, “Terry is an integral part of the Lower Price Hill neighborhood and of our programming here at the Joe Williams Family Center. We are lucky to have him here to support us with everything from helping out with handyman jobs, to keeping an eye on the Center on weekends, and bringing a smile to our faces on rough days.”
Terry hopes to one day be able to purchase buildings and lots in Lower Price Hill and help restore the area that he holds dear in his heart. He would also love to obtain a 30-foot box truck to start a mobile business someday. In the meantime, you will be able to find Terry at the JWFC where he plans to continue his service to the Lower Price Hill community.