CityYouth Ministries Inc.
Rennell WoodsPlaying pro football was how Rennell Woods thought he could serve his Jonesboro hometown, but the city alderman and nonprofit executive has found a way he believes is better.
From about 1998 until 2002, Woods chased his football dreams. While training and playing some semi-pro ball, he worked athletics-related jobs.
A 2002 sermon preached by Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House church in Dallas reset his perspective. According to Woods, Jakes asked, “Are you still a boy trying to play with your childhood toys?”
Woods said the sermon caused him to consider the dissatisfaction he felt in his NFL pursuit.
“My whole dream as a professional was to be able to help young men and women who don’t have the opportunities I had and give them opportunities,” he said. “The toy was this NFL thing.”
Woods returned to Jonesboro and volunteered at Arkansas State University developing a life skills curriculum. When a director job opened at CityYouth Ministries in 2003, Woods found the organization melded his interests in sports and improving opportunities for kids.
Woods has led the nonprofit — which provides after-school and summer tutoring, recreation and more to local children — ever since. In 2009, CityYouth was named Arkansas Business Nonprofit Organization of the Year.
Woods also serves on the board of the Arkansas Out of School Network, which studies how to address teen problems that occur outside of school.
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