Local superhero wins $5,000 grant for community work with the homeless, sick children

Yuri Williams’ good deeds started as a way to cope with his mother’s death from cancer in 2009.

The first Christmas without her, Williams took $3,000 from his bank account and drove to various homeless encampments in Los Angeles with envelopes filled with $20, $50 and $100 bills.

He woke individuals up with McDonald’s food and money. Some didn’t even know it was Christmas.

“That was the first time ever I could see someone really thankful and thought I could do this,” Williams said of his encounters.

Now, he dresses up as a superhero—primarily Spider-Man, sometimes as Deadpool—when he goes out to feed and clothe the homeless, when he buys movie tickets at a local theater for kids with Down Syndrome or when he visits young patients at Miller Children’s Hospital.

He even travels up and down the state to help others, spurred by news he reads about them.

Earlier this year, when a friend shared a Long Beach Post story about a beloved homeless man named Jerry, Williams was shocked to find Jerry and his cart right in front of him.

He reached out and now visits Jerry about twice a week, providing him with food and even haircuts.

While the 42-year-old Long Beach resident counts on donations to support his efforts, it’s Williams’ job as an Orange County probation officer that allows him to continue helping the less fortunate.

Sometimes, its nominations by his peers that wins him awards and money to keep going.

A nomination by Mary Simms of the AOC7 neighborhood group led Williams to being named Unsung Hero of 2017 by Justin Rudd’s Community Action Team.

The money from that award allowed Williams to pay fees to make his organization, A Future Superhero, became an official nonprofit.

This year, Williams was nominated once again by a peer and won his biggest award yet—a $5,000 grant from Aftermath Services, a trauma cleaning and biohazard removal company.

“It’s just a blessing,” Williams said of the award, which he received at Long Beach City Hall on Friday.

Williams said he already has plans for the grant, a free art event for the kids of Long Beach during the holidays.

Follow Williams’ work on Instagram here or support his efforts through his website here.

Yuri Williams, dressed up as Deadpool, gets help with putting on his gloves as he arrives at Long Beach City Hall to receive a $5,000 check from Aftermath for his work with homeless and children battling cancer, in Long Beach Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Tina Bao, of Aftermath Services, presents a $5,000 check to Yuri Williams, dressed up as Dead Pool, at Long Beach City Hall for his work with homeless and children battling cancer, in Long Beach Friday, September 6, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Yuri Williams, dressed up as Deadpool, arrives at Long Beach City Hall to receive a $5,000 check from Aftermath for his work with homeless and children battling cancer, in Long Beach Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.
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