In our next #BlackHistoryMonth feature, we want to introduce you to Doris Obih, our Program Director in Inglewood, CA. Just like Donald, we want to highlight and applaud everything that Doris has done to push the tennis industry forward.
Doris grew up in the Los Angeles area and when she took up tennis, “there wasn’t a lot of representation or advocates,” she remarked. “Since then, this sport has grown a lot when it comes to inclusivity, but we still have a lot to do.”
Doris admits that growing up, it was easy to get mixed up with the wrong crowd and get in trouble, which is why she now wants to give kids in her community a safe place to be. Back in 2016, she created her own foundation called “40 Love Foundation” to utilize tennis as a platform for youth to make a positive and lasting impact. She found ACEing Autism the next year and loves how her work gives her a purpose.
“We started with an after-school program at La Tijera Elementary School, and then the Woodworth Elementary School suggested targeting kids on the spectrum,” Doris said. “We need to think about these kids, but we need to cater to them.”
For Doris, Inglewood is home to her foundation, but it also brings its challenges. Being an African American leader in her community helps other families see the many possibilities available to them and allows her to bring a sport to a community that doesn’t hear much about it. “I want to make them see that they belong and, especially in my area, I want to provide a place where they’re not judged and can have someone to talk to,” the ever-enthusiastic Doris said.
This is one of the reasons she asks all her staff to be very attentive. She found out that during quarantine last year, one of her students was staying in her house from 8:00am to 6:00pm. After finding this out, Doris decided to go by her house to pick her up so they could hang out safely and have some necessary outdoor time. Doris mentioned that this happens a lot in the black community because, either both parents have to work, or a single parent is gone all day at work and can’t afford childcare. For all these reasons, she makes sure that every child has access to tennis no matter who they are. “You never want to have a child quit what they are doing because of financial reasons or have them feel like they have to take on that responsibility.”
Thanks to Doris, a lot of children on the autism spectrum in the African American discovered tennis, gained confidence and found a safe place to be themselves without any judgement. She has gone above and beyond for her community and for that we are so thankful to have her in our ACEing Autism family.