Spider-Man, as the theme song goes, “spins a web, any size, catches thieves just like flies.”
But when Yuri Williams, not Peter Parker, dons the Spidey threads, he slings a safety net. He and others involved with his 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, called A Future Superhero and Friends, have visited 48 states, helping veterans, the homeless and impoverished, the sick, the elderly and others, including animals, he said.
Sunday, he was in Modesto — a return visit after giving toys to homeless children at Christmastime. He and a few colleagues went to Haven Youth Center on H Street, where they provided to women and children clothing, school supplies, backpacks, snacks and treats, like slap bracelets. They then served pizza.
The trip to Modesto came about when Williams reached out to Turning Point Community Programs and others here. “He really wanted to come up and do something for the kids here,” said Emma Niven, a program support assistant with Turning Point. Those served Sunday also included families from the MOES (Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter) tent city and the Center for Human Services’ Hutton House.
Niven said what Williams and his friends to is “amazing” — a suitable superlative considering the Marvel Comics web slinger also is known as the Amazing Spider-Man. “These kids don’t necessarily have the ability to get what they need for school supplies and to get ready for school,” she said, as dozens of children looked through tables piled with clothing. “They benefit from it, we benefit from it as an organization. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the community” — or in this case from people who live far outside the community.
“And the kids love it,” Niven added. “It gives them a little bit of a last hurrah before they start the school year.”
Williams, 42, seemed to love it, too, as he posed for photos with kids, did fist bumps and let a little girl put a slap bracelet on him. “It’s the best feeling in the world to me, to be honest, to see a kid light up when receiving a backpack or a T-shirt or food, and to see that superhero that you love coming out to help you.”
His charitable work began shortly after the loss of his mother, Lynda C. Hubbard, to cancer in 2009. He officially established A Future Superhero and Friends in 2017. “I do it in her name because she taught me how it’s better to give than to receive.” And traveling the continental U.S., he said, he’s learned that “everybody is the same and everybody’s just trying to survive.”
Williams, a correctional officer in the mental health unit of the Orange County Juvenile Hall, said he has about eight more years before retiring, after which he hopes to do his nonprofit work full time. The nonprofit’s website shows it has some superpowered supporters, including Walmart and Chewy.com.
About the name A Future Superhero, he explained that when he’s done, he hopes someone else will carry the torch to help those in need. “I always liked Spider-Man as a kid,” he said, “and when I leave this earth, somebody else is going to be the next A Future Superhero.”