Kody Jenkins, age 32, was raised in Carroll County. “I have always loved basketball,” says Kody. “I started playing when I was 5 years old and soon enrolled in community leagues.”
“When I was 12 years old, I started smoking weed and drinking. During my junior and senior year, I moved to acid and heroin and cocaine. I was still playing basketball. In my senior year, I was 3rd in Carroll County for most points scored. Scouts started talking to me and I had a promising college basketball career to look forward to.
“When I was 17 years old, I was arrested for the first time. I was in and out of courtrooms. Right after high school, I had an assault charge. Three days later, I was arrested on major drug charges. They gave me a nine year sentence of which I served about five years.
“After I got out of prison, I knew I still had the basketball talent but I saw the opportunity slipping way from me. I was in and out of rehabs and kept telling myself I would try to play basketball but I never got it together. Over the next 5 years, I was incarcerated 4 more times and went to rehabs 6 times.
“I didn’t have any relationship with my family during those years. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror let alone be around my family the way that I was. Because of my actions, I hurt family members very badly. I knew I had really messed up and that hurt even more badly than the prison time.
“I got to the point where I had no control over myself or my addiction. I knew that if I didn’t get help I would eventually start robbing stores or doing other things I didn’t want to do. I knew it was time to get help. I had heard about Helping Up Mission in the past and decided that it was time to give it a try.
“Before I came to the Mission, life was always on the run. I don’t remember ever enjoying life. After I had been at the Mission for a while, I noticed that I was starting to have fun. We went on a retreat to Camp Wabanna. I woke up early so I could catch the sunrise – it was serene. As I started to come to peace with myself, the dream of playing college basketball was reborn.
“My Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When I heard the news, I realized I needed to be able to face him before he died and apologize for that pain I had caused. I had forgiven myself and I knew he had too but I needed to go to him. I visited him and we had a long talk – that was the start of our reconciliation.
“My Dad’s diagnosis gave me the motivation to start pursuing my dream of college basketball. I started working out and joined Helping Up Mission’s running team through Back On My Feet.
“I started talking to John, a HUM volunteer who works for Maryland Economic Opportunity Center – an organization that assists individuals in obtaining grants. He knew that I didn’t know how to get started. He helped me fill out the applications and helped me connect with the basketball coach at CCBC Dundalk.
“The coach invited me to attend an open house and try out. When I met the coach, I told him that I had a rough past and things were hard in my 20’s but I was there now. I told him that I wanted an education and I had been waiting for this opportunity for 14 years. He told me that everyone deserves a second chance and that they had a place for me on the team.
“Once I was accepted, I started preparing for college! I enrolled in a summer class to get me prepped for school. I also took advantage of the tutoring services at the Mission to prepare me for my placement classes. Having a tutor allowed me to pass the test and avoid two non-credit classes.
“Running with Back On My Feet prepared me to play basketball again. They taught me discipline through getting up and running every morning. Running also helped me to improve my speed.
“I love playing basketball! I’ve been playing in the games and doing really well. It’s a dream come true to finally be playing college basketball.
“Helping Up Mission is a blessing! The Spiritual Recovery Program is set up in a wonderful way. I came to the Mission with a lot of pain. The first 45 days of the program when I was on restriction and unable to leave the building gave me time to stay still and get my head right. Having memory work in Pastor Gary’s class was important to help me start thinking again.
“Having access to counseling at the Mission was critical. The counselors helped guide me through the time with my Dad. They always pointed me back to my relationship with God.
“Helping Up Mission has everything you need to change you life but it’s not going to fall in your lap. At the Mission, I realized that I needed to seize those opportunities. They give you anything you need to change your life!