A young Tammira Lucas’ family was puzzled by what the landlord of their home in Baltimore’s Penn North neighborhood told them.
The landlord had entered the family’s name into an adopt-a-family program that the local church organized around Christmas. It turned out that a renowned pro athlete would be “adopting” the Lucas family: Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap.
Seeing the excitement on her family members’ faces as Heap visited and showered them with holiday gifts resonated with Lucas, inspiring her to do whatever she could to provide that same happiness.
“I remember that bringing joy to my siblings, so I decided that any opportunity I get as an adult to give back or do more to help provide opportunities for others, I’m going to do that,” she told Technical.ly. “So that’s what I’ve committed myself to doing,”
Lucas lived in Baltimore neighborhoods like Penn North, Park Heights, and the Gilmor Homes throughout her childhood. Poverty was a throughline for each of these areas, but the communities were so close-knit that Lucas was unaware of their conditions until she grew older.
“I didn’t realize we were living in poverty because we were such a family,” she said. “I recognized, as I got older, that poverty did exist and people weren’t living the status quo. I knew that was something I didn’t want to do, so that was my motivation to get to where I am today.”