When a pebble is dropped into water it creates a ripple effect and symbolizes the kind of positive impact the Samata’s wanted to help create in the Austin neighborhood in honor of their son, Evan.
So far it has worked, according to Greg and Pat Samata and their daughter Tate.
“That’s how I saw this foundation; reaching more and more children,” Pat Samata said.
Three years ago, the Samatas turned over their foundation and its sizable revenue to By The Hand Club For Kids (BTH), located at 415 N. Laramie Ave. in Austin, three years ago. They made the donation in memory of Samata’s son and brother, Evan, who died at the age of 2 after being struck by a car.
For the past two years during the month of June, youth from BTH honor Evan’s life through various service projects and this year’s theme was for them to be “Agents of Change.” Each June, and sometimes at other points, the Samatas stop by BTH to see what the youth have done and this year on June 27 they did it again.
This year, three groups of youth were recognized for their work in the community, which involved small acts of kindness such as picking up trash along city streets and parks, going out of their way to get refreshments for their fellow youths and interacting with the homeless in the neighborhood.
The youth were made up of three groups and there were first, second and third place winners. Each group was given a nominal cash award.
Donnita Travis, executive director of BTH, expressed that, whether they spend or save it, she hopes the children try to make an impact with the money.
“Think about if you can do something good with it and be an agent for change,” she said.
Greg Samata said what the BTH has accomplished is something he’s proud of and knows his son would be proud, too. He said that was the point of the foundation, which was initially created in his name.
“It’s about being proactive in the world, taking initiative,” he said. “There is a huge divide in our country and in our world. We have to be the ones to keep it together.”
Kaniya Ross, 9, said she has learned a lot going to the BTH and being an Agent of Change.
“It’s fun,” she said. “We learn a lot about God; learn not to do violence when we grow up.”
She plans on using the money she won to buy baby food and pampers for a neighbor who has a baby.
Greg Samata gives all the praise to Travis for working to provide a place for youth to thrive.
“This is our opportunity to give back and we’re very excited about the opportunity,” he said. “The credit goes to her not to me.”
Pat Samata said, after seeing what the youth had accomplished in their groups, marveled at how BTH has grown over the years.
“They are doing wonderful things with these kids,” she said. “It’s more than I could ever wish for.”