In 2009, Chuck Goodwin started Fish for Life, a non-profit mentorship program dedicated to building a better future for at-risk youth. At its inception, Fish for Life partnered with the juvenile justice system to provide educational fishing trips for youth on probation, giving them the opportunity to earn fishing licenses and have some fun. Since then, the organization has grown to develop a relationship with some area schools as well, and with the help of teachers and counselors, it is able to meet needs for more kids and families.
With this growing capacity, Goodwin expanded Fish for Life’s annual offerings to include food, clothing and shoes via several initiatives throughout the year.
Once a year, Fish for Life will donate professionally processed venison to a number of families. In January and February of this year, the organization was able to donate 700 pounds of meat to the T.G. Allen neighborhood. Each of the 70 families was given 10 pounds of venison, thanks to the generosity provided by donors from Lonesome Coyote Ranch, La Manada Hunting Club, Four Amigos Ranch and Dancing Elk Ranch.
Fish for Life also provides shopping sprees for children from T. G. Allen and West Oso ISD. Between 75-100 children are selected and given a $100 gift card to JCPenney to purchase new clothing. The shopping sprees are designed to have each child purchase a couple of pairs of jeans, two to three tops and undergarments. To ensure a smooth shopping spree for each child, JCPenney opens early, and the children are accompanied by volunteers from the community as well as Incarnate Word Academy cheerleaders who help them pick out their clothes.
“I look forward to this event every year,” said Incarnate Word Academy cheerleader and volunteer Isabella Cuevas. “The kids get so excited to pick out clothes and show us what they find. It’s a humbling experience.”
Goodwin mentioned that after taking the kids shopping, he learned many of these children were also in dire need of new shoes. “Some of the children come to school with shoes that are too small, while others don’t have any,” said Goodwin. So teachers gathered the shoe sizes of each child, and Goodwin got in touch with the GM of JCPenney, who is one of Fish for Life’s board members, and he ordered shoes for the kids. In February of this year, Goodwin, Mayor Paulette Guajardo and some of the sponsors presented more than 100 pairs of shoes to a group of smiling, grateful children, creating yet another magical moment for them.
Born out of compassion for children, Fish for Life has been able to foster mentorship and meet significant needs through simple acts of kindness.