Birthday Tradition Brings ‘Team PJ’ Together to Support ACCFB

I’m a caretaker, a nurturer. We used to go to Brookfield park for family gatherings and my grandma would cook and we had music and games. Everybody came, the whole neighborhood. She would just end up feeding everybody.

When PJ was born he loved to eat.  He would eat vegetables, meat, fruit, but not sweets. He played sports.  My husband is a coach for baseball, football and softball, and we traveled for sports in our family.  The kids from teams that my husband coached, they became our kids too. I would wash their clothes, they would stay at our house.

When PJ was taken was from us I spent the first three years in deep depression. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do anything. March 1, 2011 changed my life forever. I wasn’t able to see that I was in a depression and the doctor said I needed to get back in the world.

There was a math teacher at my daughter’s school, John Muir Middle School in San Leandro, who started a black student union and one of their first activities was to volunteer at Alameda County Community Food Bank.  It felt so good to go there and pack food. At that point I said, ‘this is what I want to do to honor my son.’ The following year we started volunteering on his birthday. We call it Team PJ Service Day.

The pandemic derailed things this year. I decided let’s just ask everybody who could afford it to donate $33 because PJ would have been 33 years old this year. We collected the money and donated it to the food bank.

It makes me feel like we’re doing our part to make sure everybody who needs food can get food.