“I love kids!”
John Terrano said that just after he had met Woody Woodfin at a men’s breakfast and learned about Street2Street for the very first time. The mission of Street2Street is “to help at-risk kids Play, Belong, and Matter through sports events, mentoring, and personal development.”
Terrano told Woodfin, “If you ever need anything, give me a call.”
Newly retired, Terrano also shared with Woodfin that he had a hot dog cart he used at parties. So, when Woody remembered the night before a big basketball tournament that he had neglected to provide hot dogs for the event’s participants, he recalled John’s cart – and his offer to help.
Woodfin placed the call. It was 9:30 at night. “Hey, John. You said you have a hot dog cart, right? I need 200 hot dogs for a tournament.”
“Sure!” Terrano said. “What date is the tournament?”
“Tomorrow morning at eleven.”
“What, are you insane?” Terrano blurted. Then, without hesitation, he went to work.
“I get up from the couch where we were watching TV,” Terrano said, “and my wife says, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I need to buy 200 hot dogs and rolls somewhere.’ She looked at me like I was nuts. ‘You don’t understand,’ I told her. ‘It’s Woody. I’ve got to have them by tomorrow morning.’
“So, there I am, ten o’clock at night, and I’m running around to all the stores open 24 hours to find 200 hot dogs, 200 rolls, five cans of chili, five cans of onions, ketchup, and mustard. All the time, I’m thinking, ‘Woody, I’m gonna kill you!” he said, laughing.
Yet, the next morning Terrano was right on time at the tournament, his cart filled with 200 hot dogs, ready to eat. “I loved it,” he said. “The kids were great, and I had a blast!”
Terrano was so taken that day with Street2Street that he not only became a regular volunteer, but a member of the ministry’s board of directors. And he wasn’t done. He once again stepped up when Street2Street wanted to set up a concession stand for their 2018 Paterson, New Jersey league – and have a Street2Street alum operate it.
Terrano took James—a 21-year-old who has had his struggles and is currently on parole—and put him to work.
“I took him out to lunch to discuss how the concession stand was going to work, then we went to a wholesale place that sells food,” Terrano said. “I told him, ‘You pick out the things you think the kids will like: candy, snacks, Gatorade, whatever.’ I’ll front you the money, but then you’ll pay me weekly. We broke down what was paid for each item, what each item needed to sell for to make a profit, then made some signs. The next day, we opened it.”
The deal was James would pay Terrano $15 a week. “He has to know up front that it costs to do business. Nothing’s free. After he’s paid me, he’s making about $60-$70 profit each Saturday. Then he has to use that to get more product,” Terrano said.
The concession stand has been a smashing success, and James has thrived and even added a friend, Charles, to help him. They split the time and money.
But Terrano still wasn’t done. He’s bought groceries for James’s mother and their family. He’s also held James accountable to attend a church-based reentry program for ex-prisoners and pursue getting a GED. Terrano expressed to James his very personal motivation for helping others in need.
“I told him, ‘I don’t cry any blues. I grew up in a household where I was physically abused as a child. I remember my dad being arrested three times when I was a kid. I remember being at a police station where they were taking photographs of my back where my dad hit me with a belt. He beat my mother. I’ve been there,’” Terrano said.
When he was 15, he and his mother moved out, and Terrano took on two jobs to help her support her and his brother and sister.
“There wasn’t anyone to help me. At eighteen, I left the house, joined the Army, and ended up in Vietnam for thirteen months. When I see kids that can use a hand up, I have it. I’ve always worked with kids. It’s in my heart,” he said. “The Lord has put me at a wonderful time and place in my life where I have the luxury of helping James and his family. His mother is a hard-working woman. She works as a checker, does inventory until three in the morning, and has no car…”
In reference to his assistance of James and his family, Terrano simply adds, “It’s the right thing to do.”
-Written by By Adam Colwel
This article was reprinted with permission from Street2Street’s magazine. For a copy of the magazine or to connect with the ministry, visit www.street2street.com.