From Foster Home to the NFL-The Power of Mentoring

From Foster Home to the NFL
The Power of Hope

The much shortened version of the story goes something like this: When Jimmy was nine years old, his ex-stepdad, whom he lived with for about a year, dropped him off at social services because his mom wouldn’t give the ex- stepdad the $98 she was receiving in child support.

When Jimmy was 11 and his belongings stuffed into a black garbage bag, his mom dropped him off at a group home for juvenile delinquents where he was beaten. Eventually, Jimmy’s mom took him back from the group home only to see him beaten by her boyfriend.

Jimmy described this period of his life as having “no hope, love or future.” This was Jimmy’s reality.

Enter Becky Vinson. At the time Becky met Jimmy she was a single mom of a five year old and going through nursing school. Becky didn’t have much. She was short on money and spare time. In fact, Jimmy described Becky’s home as a “tin can”. What Becky lacked in resources she more than made up for in compassion. Through a series of interactions, Becky became aware of Jimmy’s situation and later brought him into her home to live with her tiny family.

The Jimmy in this real life story is none other than the tight end of the New Orleans Saints, Jimmy Graham. Jimmy will be playing in his third Pro bowl on January 25. So how exactly does one go from a life of abandonment and failing grades to the life of a college graduate with a double major and a professional athlete? The only explanation I can offer is that Becky injected Jimmy’s life with hope, love, and a hope for his future. Becky’s consistent presence in Jimmy’s life allowed him to flourish.

Not all mentoring relationships have the same rags to riches result as in the case of Jimmy Graham. In fact, I’m not aware of any Chaffee County mentees making it to elite athlete status. However, all healthy mentoring relationships do provide the crucial elements of hope, love and consistency. The transformative power that comes from this type of relationship has the ability to set a young person on a new life trajectory.

As we, Chaffee County Mentors, celebrate National Mentoring Month, we celebrate the lives that have been positively impacted through mentoring relationships right here in our county. We look forward in anticipation to the stories that will surely come from these relationships in the year ahead.
To learn more about the Chaffee County Mentors Program, you can visit our website at or give us a call at 719-530-2581.

Kenny Wilcox
Chaffee County Mentors and Youth In Action Coordinator
[email protected]

“Chaffee County Mentors Program is committed to strengthening our community by connecting our young people to purpose and self-worth through positive one on one mentoring relationships.”


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