Teen finds greatest satisfaction helping others
By Dwight Hobbes
People in our community and their giving spirit to others often go unnoticed as “Unspoken Heroes. Our Spoken Heroes gives the community the opportunity to recognize these everyday heroes and their accomplishments. Without looking for something in return, these heroes are often only rewarded by knowing that others benefit from their efforts.
Pretty much the nicest thing you can say about someone is that he doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. This seems to be the simple truth when speaking of young Terrence DuJour, even if it is his mom, McKayla DuJour, doing the talking. His actions speak as loudly as her words.
Terrence, at 14, has for years spent a great deal of his time reaching out by preparing meals for the homeless. He doesn’t do it as some sort of social studies project for school, not as a hobby, and certainly not to satisfy requirements of a juvenile offender sentence — he’s never spent a day of his life in trouble with the law.
He helps because it’s in his heart and soul to do so: “I just like to help other people.” He’s been doing this, he states, “my whole life.” Yes, since the age of four, guided by a parental hand.
McKayla DuJour, it bears noting, is founder/CEO of Better Way to Life (www.better way2life.org), which she established to aid the unfortunate, first in Chicago and now incorporated in the Twin Cities. Terrence acknowledges that his mother, of course, is an influence, adding, “But, I would still do it. I like to give to people, to those that are in need.”
That has included pitching in on relief efforts for people who’ve had their homes or property damaged by the still well-remembered storms that have ravaged the metro region in recent years. As well as class trips to volunteer in Eden Prairie at the Feed My Starving Children, a facility where food is packaged and sent to various countries where people are poverty stricken.
“Terrence has always been,” McKayla states, “a warmhearted and compassionate person. He’s always willing and able in making himself available [to aid others].”
Along with preparing meals, she continues, “he helps with passing out food and clothing from the trunk of our car to [whomever] we meet that’s in need.”
Where does the kid find time? “I’ve done it on weekdays, after school, and on the weekend.” Holidays, too. There’ve been times he felt moved, with Mom’s permission, to forgo school and church services. That is how seriously the young man takes this.
In a day and age when far too many adolescents emulate and aspire to a thug lifestyle, Terrence conducts himself about as far from that example as one can imagine. “If others are doing what they shouldn’t be doing, I’m still going to do what I’m supposed to do.”
Unwittingly, but not surprisingly, he finds himself a peer role model. Teens being teens, they will gravitate to and be influenced by those among them with strong presence. If that presence happens to be positive, so is the influence.
He admits, “People look up to me in some situations. I think some of my friends would like to be the way I am and do the same things I do.” Quite imaginably more than a few parents wish their youngsters would, too.
The case can not be overstated for salvaging African American youth from society’s predestined sidelines of jail, institutions or an early grave. When we see someone like Terrence DuJuor come along, it behooves the concerned to wish, hope and pray he doesn’t become yet one more innocent victim of such random violence as perennially plagues inner-city environs, where he volunteers for the public good.
Terrence’s altruism is strongly faith-based, springing from his and his mother’s devotion as members of the Minnetonka Seventh Day Adventist Church, through which he does his volunteering in conjunction with Better Way to Life. He also volunteers at church as a leader for vacation bible school.
McKayla reflects, “Terrence is a blessing, and he recognizes that we are blessed. And [that] we are about the business of helping others in having a better life that can also be filled with blessings.” She looks on with a sense of enrichment and joy, “[a] humble pride. I’m just overwhelmed by the goodness that is within him.”
She sums up, “If there is the last piece of chocolate cake, he won’t take it for himself. He will split it in half and give me the biggest piece.”
The biggest half? Indeed, McKalya DuJour is to be soundly commended for raising such a responsible citizen. Still, a mother bursting her proverbial buttons does not make the most objective of judges. Ultimately, Terrence DuJour’s commitment to contributing to the greater social good speaks volumes for itself.
Look for biweekly stories on people in our community who are doing important work — caring for others. And look for a follow-up interview with our Spoken Heroes on KMOJ radio.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.