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A Sunday afternoon with retired football players

  • Retired NFL players Cliff Branch, Rudy Nixon, owner of Friar Tucks, Honor Jackson, Jerry Robinson, Mervyn Fernandez, Anthony Bell and Brad Kahn during the annual fundraiser held for Fence at the Top. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Irene Hilsendager
January 25, 2019

Fun and entertainment is what happens when a few retired football players come to town and sit and shoot the fat with Honor Jackson, who is the Executive Director of Fence at the Top, a non-profit, comprehensive mentoring program for at-risk youth in Sonoma County.

The divisional championship game between the LA Rams and NE Patriots was the draw that brought a large crowd to Friar Tuck’s Pub in Cotati and shake hands with a few retired pigskin throwers and receivers. Patrons were saying the Rams will lose again, but they prevailed after 17 years of being close but never being the divisional champions.

The event was to raise funds for the Fence at the Top organization which provides youths with vital life skills that will bring a greater success possible for each teen. The approach allows this organization to intercept at-risk, troubled and neglected youths before they fall, hence the name Fence at the Top. 

The average age of the youngsters are nine to 18 years and have a very low school grade point average of 2.5 or even less. There is so much instability in the lives of these adolescent teen-agers. There is very little or no supervision in the homes. They are sexually promiscuous and the temptation of alcohol and drugs are everywhere. Because of not receiving the attention they need, many fall by the wayside.  Educators, families, businesses, retired sports professionals and members of the community are working for the youths of today to be leaders for tomorrow. They are taught basic life skills such as responsibility, self-control and learning techniques for job searching. All of this is provided through an on-campus activities and after school events that encourage these young people to focus on their grades in school. Studies show that these youngsters who receive the assistance of programs from Fence at the Top are 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 86 percent more likely to go on to get higher education.