When you talk to Thomas White at school or look at a college application, he’s simply Thomas.

But if you catch him in Southie, he’s Tommy White.

“I mean, in my house, everybody here calls me Thomas. In Southie, especially at basketball and stuff, people usually call me Tommy. And that’s just the name I was given," he said, with a laugh. White is chronicling his senior year of high school with GBH News as part of ourCOVID and the Classroom series.

It’s a moniker fitting for the South Boston neighborhood White hails from that can still feel like a village despite years of gentrification. And he’s done his part to give back to it.

In a typical year, he spends time working with Southie kids in camps and basketball clinics. While he’s been able to do that at least a little bit this year, it hasn’t been the same in 2020. It’s been a loss for a lot of people.

A Boston Latin School track and cross country star, White didn’t have a whole lot of confidence as an athlete growing up. But as he spent time with older teens in neighborhood programs, that began to change.

“It was like, ‘Dang, like they’re so fast.’ You know, I want to be them when I grow up," he said. "And, getting to be that person for someone else is so important to me.”

During the summers, he works at the Edgerley Family South Boston Boy & Girls Club where he’s become something of a local celebrity.

“Thomas was definitely one of those people who are connected with a lot of the kids," said Tim Bothwell, the director of operations at the Boys and Girl’s Club.

This year, the Club ran a much smaller summer program for kids than usual. White was one of the teen staff who worked with kids for a socially distant six-week program in smaller cohorts.

“Some of these kids, who knows what they would have did throughout the summer," Bothwell said. "Sit in the house, be on videogames and things like that. We were able to offer some sort of normalcy, for that matter, for them.”

But this winter, there may be even fewer outlets for young kids to get away from screens and make connections with each other and older kids. The Catholic Youth Organization instructional basketball program where White helps coach 1st and 2nd graders is canceled because of the pandemic. The program caters to kids of all backgrounds.

“If you’re constantly at home dealing with, you know, people fighting or whatever, and you just go play basketball for an hour and just have fun with this kid who wants to go play basketball with you whose five years older than you and you know, kind of like a role model," White said.

Sean Monahan, who helps run the boys program, says many of the kids need role models to look up to. At an even more basic level, they just need friends and a place to build confidence.

“That’s the thing that we’re missing now," he said. "And we’re losing that social benefit from these kids getting together seeing their friends.”

Jake Harrision is a senior at Boston Latin who plays on the basketball team and also hails from Southie. He met Thomas through the CYO basketball program as 7th graders. He realizes it’s not just the kids who are missing out.

“But I think it makes a way bigger impact on the parents, because they kind of don’t get a break from the kids. Every Saturday morning for two hours they get to go and do whatever they want," he said. "The energy is always gonna still be there, so it’s a little bit more hard to handle for the parents.”

Sometimes the kids White works will be honest and tell their young mentors about problems they’re dealing with at home. Just being there for them can make a big difference.

“Unfortunately, I can’t go fix every problem," he said "But in the limited ability that I have, I can do those kind of things. And it does kind of suck not to get that opportunity.”

White gets to give to his community, yes, but he also admits it’s simply fun. And in a year where so much has been taken away, even a little time together is a big deal for Tommy White and the kids who want to be him one day.