Deatrich Wise Jr. knew he found something special when he visited the Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center for the first time.
The kids were passionate, creative, and technologically savvy, and the New England Patriots defensive end wanted to find a way to celebrate them. There, the idea for his annual block party began, but he never imagined how much it could evolve four years later.
"Everybody is always looking forward to this event now," Wise Jr. said. "This started off as a thought to help shine a light on the Mattapan Teen Center and what those kids do, and it became a platform for them. I remember coming back for the second (block party) and it was just different. The atmosphere was so joyous. Everyone said it was something they'd never seen before."
The fourth annual block party is on Saturday, Oct. 22, rain or shine, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mattapan Teen Center.
The event will feature food trucks, cooking demonstrations, art, a pop-up barbershop, hair braiding, a free farmers market, music, and other activities to bring people together.
By Wise Jr.'s logic, you can't go wrong with food, music and sports. The block party boasts that trifecta, and the turnout gets better every year.
"It's really a hidden gem," Wise Jr. said about the Mattapan community. "I think it's overshadowed by all the negative connotations that people make with Mattapan, but once you peel back a layer and go into Mattapan and see the people – they're full of love and full of light."
The neighborhood will be represented well at the block party.
Fresh Food Generation, Gourmet Kreyol, Sweet Teez Bakery and the Commonwealth Kitchen will offer food to the public, with Joselyn Ortega of ByJawz coordinating the babers and braiders. Muralist GoFive (Genaro Ortega), who also works as an art teacher in Roxbury, will be painting live, and Jeff 2Timez, a longtime Dorchester DJ and radio host, will set the day's soundtrack.
Of course, the kids from the Mattapan Teen Center will steal the show.
There will be a screening of the documentary "Mattapan," which was written, directed, and produced by 14-year-old Moses Sibley. His older brother King David Sibley, also a member of the program, will MC the stage show from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"Our model is we educate and inspire through positive events in the community," Wise Jr. said of all of his charitable initiatives. "Through that model, the block party at the Boys and Girls Club aligns with that mission."
As the saying goes, it takes a village, and Wise Jr. hopes to highlight the local businesses, organizations, artists and leaders that make up Mattapan's tight-knit community.
"The village has always been there," Wise Jr. said. "This block party just shines a light on the village that has been there as the heartbeat that keeps Mattapan going."