It's been two years since Deatrich Wise Jr. last hosted his annual block party with the Mattapan Teen Center, but this Oct. 16, the event is back on.
After a year where community was pushed into virtual spaces, the block party is a chance to bring people together in celebration and introduce people to the great organizations, creators and businesses in Mattapan. Wise said he wanted to create a fun and joyous environment for the event.
"I would like for when people come to the block party to just feel inspired, inspired by just all the the positive things that go on in this community," he said. "Everybody at the block party is from Mattapan. So that's an inspiration and so that they can do something great if they just put their minds to it. [I hope] that they walk away with positive and happy feelings and vibes, and that they learn something."
The event will include local vendors, a farmer's market, food trucks and live cooking demonstrations. While one area of focus is highlighting local businesses -- with an emphasis on Black-owned and women-owned business -- that took a hit during the pandemic, another is health and wellness. By offering fresh produce and cooking lessons for easy, healthy meals, Wise hopes people who attend will bring some of these things home with them.
There will also be barbers and hairstylists on site to provide fresh haircuts, as well as twists and braids for local kids. With a new school year underway, it is a chance to give students a boost of confidence with a new hairstyle or cut.
"They can go into the school week looking fresh," Wise said.
At the end of the day, the event is centered around the Mattapan Teen Center, which is a part of Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. It is a community hub for kids and their families, and Wise said he was blown away when he met some of the young people who go to the center. He wants to showcase the vibrancy of the center and the students who attend it.
"I want to highlight the Mattapan Teen Center and what they do so it can be a light in the city," Wise said. "That's why I want to show off the kids' skills in things other than sports, and also the block party of how to bring positive positivity and a positive light to that neighborhood."
He saw kids playing instruments, working with technology, creating art and practicing different languages. As a player in the NFL, he wants to use his position to lift up others and help grow what the community is doing.
"To be honest, it's kids that look like me doing phenomenal different things, just phenomenal things," Wise said. "I want to be able to give them a platform so that they can showcase their skills."
The block party is on Oct. 16. For those who can't make it to the event, a local teen is making and selling bracelets to support the Mattapan Teen Center in honor of the event. You can check out and buy those bracelets here.