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  • Writer's pictureMadison Naves

Superheroes Are Real: How Yuri Williams Has Brought Hope To Thousands of Elderly,

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Homeless, And Sick Children

by Madison Naves | WeINSPIRE Journalist

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- Most superheroes are recognized by their super strength or humble origin story. Some heroes are born with superhuman abilities like Superman or acquired their powers from radioactive freak accidents like Spiderman. Most are destined for greatness and driven by their unwavering need to stop evil forces while making the world a better place. These superheroes are usually only found within the pages of comic books or popular action movies. Still, Yuri Williams has brought this heroism to life with his nonprofit organization, A Future Superhero and Friends (AFSF). While Williams does not possess the ability to fly or telekinesis, he manages to be a hero to the people he uplifts and cares for.

Yuri Williams holding Kylo Ren and Deadpool mask. Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

Williams is the founder of AFSF, a nonprofit that cares for ill children, the homeless, and older adults. AFSF cares for underserved communities by hosting multiple blood and toy drives, volunteering to feed the homeless and older adults, and visiting ill or disabled children. Williams carries out these kind acts, usually dressed in popular superhero costumes like Spiderman, Deadpool, and The Mandalorian.

“It was a calming thing because you rarely see a superhero character in real life, so for me to walk up to a homeless person on the street as Spiderman, the first thing they would do is laugh, ” Williams said. “After they laugh, boom, I got [them], then I can build a relationship and see what they need and assist them.”

Williams notes that building a relationship is the key to understanding what support people require and how he can best assist them. While the costumes are a great way to bring joy to the people Williams helps, his connectivity expertise comes from his correctional officer experiences. Williams has worked as a deputy juvenile correctional officer for the Orange County Mental Health Unit for over 20 years. He works with children suffering from mental illness, testing different ways to calm and encourage them. Growing up in South Central LA Williams says violence and danger were far too common. He teaches his patients that there is hope beyond their situations and how to cope with their mental illness.

“I try to give [guidance] to my kids and explain to them that there is more to life than gangbanging, smoking drugs, and having fun, ” Williams said. “The purpose of why you're here is to uplift people on this earth.”

Williams learned his best practices from his mother, Lynda C. Hubbard, who worked in the same field as Williams as a probation officer. Williams credits his mother as one of the inspirations behind AFSF after her passing in 2009 from cancer.

“I was in five years of depression when she passed away, ” Williams said. “I would be bawling for five years straight, and finally I said ‘I couldn't live life like this so one day I got up and returned to work.”

Yuri Williams and his mother, Lynda C. Hubbard.

Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

Williams remembered driving to his workplace and calling his mother like he had done every day before her passing. When he realized she was gone, he broke down. Williams took time to calm himself by making an Instagram account. The first videos he watched were of Officer Tommy Norman and HipHopTrooper, popular users that use their talents to connect with community members and people battling hardships. Williams used their selflessness to inspire him to do the same. He held his head up and began the process to build AFSF into full certification by 2017.

“I’ll never forget my Mom told me ‘as you become older and do positive things a lot of people will tell you no,’” Williams said. “I still get nos, but I use these experiences to tell the kids that I work with that this is real life, and people will tell you no all the time until they see [that] you are pure and not trying to gain anything.”

Yuri Williams and young boy at AFSF Easter Drive. Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

Williams’ encouraging words are given to people who need them the most. He has conducted multiple food drives with AFSF, feeding hundreds of homeless people at a time, as well as toy drives where he has given away dolls and toys to children. Williams’ proudest accomplishment has been traveling all 50 states in the US as a part of a tour with AFSF. He stopped in each state, visiting ill children dressed in his superhero costume to uplift them and offer encouraging words. He says these moments are essential when speaking with families of ill and terminally ill children because it fosters memories needed to stay strong if and when a child passes. mentions that talking freely about experiencing grief can help people better understand and process emotions. Understanding the stages of grief, as defined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are also vital signs to managing loss and approaching grief from a healthy perspective. When grief is not handled with care, people can be left with incomplete grief. The Grief Recovery Center of Houston defines incomplete grief as what happens when grief is prevented from being fully experienced. When someone is experiencing incomplete grief, typically, they show no outward signs of grieving. Instead, traits of depression and anxiety set in, and progress is not made. Williams makes sure families can healthily process their grief with advice from his own experiences with loss.

Yuri Williams visiting a child in costume for AFSF. Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

“I tell them to be prepared for memories like when you hear that song that you used to play with them all the time it’ll bring back a memory, ” Williams said. “You have to be as strong as you can to deal with it or reach out to somebody you can talk to or get therapy but don't just take it all in by yourself.”

Being the support system that people need is Williams’ passion. He says that he does not help people for recognition but instead to help people through hardship. “To be honest I can't get enough of work or helping people; the energy that I get from just giving someone a meal just makes me feel good”. Said Williams.

He says that publicity is not what's most important to him which is why he chooses to wear masks when helping others. Instead, Williams wants others to support his foundation and take the time to help others the way AFSF does.

“If I could just retire and do [AFSF] for life I would be satisfied, ” he says.

Yuri Williams in costume and young girl at AFSF Yoda drive. Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

Williams wants to continue uplifting sick individuals and supporting underserved communities. He hopes to proceed with another country wide tour for the third time by the end of this year to reach more people. Williams wants to encourage others to also get involved with their community by any means, whether through volunteering, community outreach, or simple acts of kindness.

“Just being kind to someone by holding a door open or speaking to someone can save somebody's life. You never know what someone else is going through, ” Williams advised.

Yuri Williams in costume, volunteering at AFSF drive. Courtesy of Yuri Williams.

While his superhero powers may not be as obvious as Superman's, Williams still has all the makings of a hero. He saves the world with his generosity and care, one kind act at a time. To help Williams’efforts and support AFSF visit and consider donating or purchasing merchandise to support communities in need.


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