Leave a Legacy: Men of Valor
contributed by Jeff Dobyns
This past fall, I was at our kids’ homecoming football game. There were thousands of people on the home sideline seats. But looking over at the visitor’s section, it was a different story. We were playing an inner city school and I counted 42 people in their bleachers. Most of the kids on the team didn’t have a mom or dad at the game. I was really heartbroken by the loneliness and the reality of what it’s like for kids not to have family around. The next morning I committed to volunteering with the Men of Valor.
The organization started as a prison ministry with the goal of, “Reconciling men to God, their families, and society.” Founder Carl Carlson became a friend of mine and my admiration of his work grew as I saw the impact he was having on the lives of so many. His ministry of hope helped prisoners transition into life after release. And the scope of Men of Valor grew from bible study inside the prison walls, to job readiness programs that would help the men find a place in society. Then Carl expanded even more to help the families of the inmates.
I volunteer at Jimmy Webb’s farm along with a huge team of other volunteers. We fish and hang out with a group of about 50 kids and pour some love and hope and happiness into their lives. Most of these kids’ parents are incarcerated and it is really a reminder that organizations like Men of Valor are in the trenches making an impact on families. It makes me truly appreciate organizations, churches and volunteers trying to break the cycle of poverty, neglect and crime. And very importantly, letting these kids know that their heavenly father loves them.
Carl passed away on October 14, 2014 but his life’s work continues. His organization is still giving men in our community a second chance at life. And giving families hope where hope was lost. Carl had a dream of creating a campus where his work could continue. Men of Valor has purchased 26 acres to build that dream. Despite Carl’s absence, his legacy is not just alive, but thriving.