|Jackson strengthens his Fence At The Top
Former pro football player gives his time and attention to RP-based program for at-risk youths
Honor Jackson knew that at some point in his life, he’d be working with troubled youth in some capacity. Even when he was involved in the all-consuming world of playing professional football, working with kids was always his goal.
“I got a degree in sociology with the intention of working with youth,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s full-time focus on working with children was delayed because he spent nearly 20 years as a manager for Long’s Drug stores throughout the North Bay. But when he retired in 2006, his focus turned to his fledgling nonprofit organization Fence At The Top, which benefits local teens who may have lost their way.
Supporting charities for 20 years
“I’d been supporting charities for the last 20 years, and then I decided to open my own program…that’s how it got started,” he said.
Since its inception, Fence At The Top has worked with more than 500 youth, of which he says 60 to 70 percent are minorities. Fence At The Top currently has four programs in place that they are trying to keep funded. There is a Bible study program each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., a collaborate rites of passage program the second Saturday of each month, a tutorial program from 3-6 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday, and sports camps all over Sonoma County. Some of those sports camps have taken place on the campus of now shuttered Mountain Shadows Middle School.
Fence At The Top had its origins in Rohnert Park, where it remains based. But many of the programs take place on the campus of Community Baptist Church in Santa Rosa, where Rev. James E. Coffey presided for years. In fact, a sermon by Coffey inspired the name Fence At The Top.
Inspired by Rev. Coffey
“In one of his sermons, my pastor, Rev. Coffey said, ‘our goal here is to build a fence at the top of the hill rather than a hospital at the bottom.’ That stuck with me because it meant you should be proactive rather than having to fix a problem once something did happen.”
Fence At The Top has been selected to be the top recipient of a fundraiser held by the North Bay Black Chamber of Commerce, which takes place tonight in Windsor at the Mary Agatha Furth Center from 5-11 p.m. The center is located at 8400 Old Redwood Highway. Former Oakland Raiders receiver Cliff Branch will be the featured speaker.
“We’re hoping we can get at least $5,000, which would help us quite a bit to finish out the year,” Jackson said.
Jackson understands his organization will not be able to save every child he deals with, but saving one or two can still make a big difference. But he also feels the best is yet to come from the kids he helps.
Seeing it all pay off
“We’re still pretty young,” Jackson said. “We still haven’t seen fruits of all that’s going to happen with youth we work with. Some are just out of high school and some just got into college. I do see kids going to college and being successful. Some have jobs and things of that nature. Now they can fend for themselves, they have their own apartments and doing well for themselves.”
He said his satisfaction comes from having kids he’s worked with simply come back to him and say “thank you.”
Jackson grew up in Marin County and attended college at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
He has four grown children, with the oldest being 30, his middle set of twins are 21, and his youngest daughter just turned 19. In 1994, Jackson married his wife, Monique.