Between studying for five AP exams and trying to live a normal teenage lifestyle, the now 16-year-old Will Lourcey helps feed the hungry through his nonprofit FROGs, or Friends Reaching Our Goals, founded in 2010 (officially a nonprofit organization as of 2013). FROGs began helping the community by participating in activities such as lemonade stands to help raise money for local food banks. Today the nonprofit works directly with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Fort Worth to provide nutritious meals for those in need. As founder and CEO at the young age of 7, Lourcey understood the overwhelming number of people who suffer from hunger in Fort Worth. According to Feeding America, Tarrant county is one of the top 10 counties in the U.S. with the highest food-insecure community––over 16 percent of the population in 2016. By rallying a couple of friends together in 2010, Lourcey has made and continues to make an impact on the community.
How did you start FROGs?
Will Lourcey: When I was 7 years old, I was riding home from a little league baseball game, and while my family was stopped at a stop light, I saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read, “Need a meal.” I didn’t understand what this meant, so I asked my parents about it, and I did some research. I was shocked to learn that there are so many people in my own community and in America who are food insecure, so I decided to gather some friends and do something about it.
What are some of those things you do to end hunger?
Mom, how as a parent do you go about starting this?
Julie Lourcey: At first, it caught my husband and me off guard because we asked him what he wanted to do for the summer, and this was the summer after first grade. We thought he would say a new book series or journal writing, but he said, “I want to help the man on the street corner,” and we didn’t know what that would look like, so we followed his lead as far as what he wanted to do. So it was important for him to have fun while helping others, and that’s why he engaged his friends into the service projects. As parents, I think it’s important to follow the child’s lead, as far as not boxing them into what things should automatically look like. I’m fortunate that my husband and I were willing and able to sort of be his helpers. It’s important for parents to not always be the driver of the bus, sort of be the cheerleaders in the back of the bus saying, “How can we help you? You can do this.” It’s been fun watching Will and his friends help others, and also it’s a rewarding experience to see the smiles on the kids’ faces.
So, why the acronym FROGs?
WL: Well, in elementary school, a lot of my friends loved Texas Christian University, the horned frogs, so I thought, “Even though both my parents are Aggies, it might be a good incentive to get them involved by putting a similar name on there.”
JL: It’s very obvious that we had no part in naming it because we’re both Texas Aggies.
You’ve won over nine awards. Did you ever expect something that started in 2010 to make such an impact?
WL: I couldn’t foresee any of this, but I guess as a first grader, I didn’t have much imagination back then. It’s such an honor to be able to do this and help so many people and make more kids aware that they can be active in their own communities.
How has FROGs changed from 2010 to now?
WL: When we started, it was just a bunch of kids from my school and my baseball team, but now in the age of social media, and in middle and high school, that is huge. It’s a great way for us to get volunteers and expand how many kids we can access and speak to through all these different websites. Whereas when we were first graders, we were limited to our own school circles. [Now] we can spread out, network and contact with all sorts of people to get them engaged in our projects.
So far, what has the impact been statistically?
WL: We’ve provided about 900,000 meals to kids in our community through these projects, and we’ve inspired countless youth into making a bigger and more positive impact in their neighborhoods and their cities. It’s all about showing these kids how they can get active. They just need to see a need, make a plan, gather friends and change the world.
Are you exclusively focusing on FW?
WL: We would love to branch out, but mostly, we are focusing in our immediate community. Although, we’ve always wanted to start up chapters in other regions or areas.
Are there any future plans for FROGs?
WL: We like to keep going throughout Fort Worth and partner up with more Boys and Girls Clubs to provide this Dinner Club experience we provide.
What is the Dinner Club?
WL: The Dinner Club is a combination of nutrition and service. We serve them a healthy, catered meal with a different theme each time, and then for the second part, we get them involved in various service activities, like writing cards or filling bags of shelf-sustainable food, just to show them that they can make a difference in their community.