RICHMOND, Va (WWBT)- It was Clelin Ferrell’s first big charitable donation since signing his NFL contract. $100,000 to the city of Richmond’s COVID-19 relief efforts. To find where his money would make the biggest difference, the Benedictine product and current Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end had to look back, well before the spotlight of athletic stardom shined upon him.
Ferrell’s community is important to him and always has been. He grew up off of Broad Rock Road in Richmond’s Southside and remembers walking by a homeless man in his neighborhood as a kid, who handed him a piece of paper.
"I looked on the piece of paper and it was a bible verse," Ferrell recalled. "Matthew 17:20, and it's truly the thing I live by now."
Matthew 17:20- “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." It's a bible verse that Ferrell still holds dear today.
"Things like that are very, very big to me because people who have no relationship to me at all have had an impact on my life."
Fast forward, and Ferrell has completed his rookie year with the Raiders. He knew the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting his home community hard, so he reached out to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to see who could use some help the most.
"We are in need of all funds and we are gearing up and preparing for the next influx of tenants that are really going to need our support," said Monica Jefferson, the vice president and chief operating officer of Home Opportunities Made Equal (HOME).
"So many people have been laid off during this time, they're unemployed," added Jefferson. "Those are the clients that we serve."
HOME is a local non-profit organization that manages Richmond's Eviction Diversion Program. Neighborhoods like Ferrell's boyhood community have been hit hard by unemployment and financial troubles during the coronavirus crisis. Those are the areas for which home is looking out. After conversations with Stoney and Jefferson, Ferrell opted to give half of his $100,000 donation to the organization.
"It goes to the people who need it immediately," said Ferrell. "I've been very, very... [Mayor Stoney] will say tough on him about it. That's why I just wanted to go to someone who I knew was going to be in charge of it."
"He said 'hey, I hear what you're saying, thanks so much for your time, I'm supportive of this and I'm going to send you a check for $50,000,'" smiled Jefferson. "I was blown away."
Jefferson said that a large part of Ferrell's contribution will go towards supporting families, something in which Ferrell expressed interest. The NFL star knows that money is not the only way he can help, as he's a role model to many, and not just kids.
"My biggest thing is going back to my community and instill in the adults that are already there that even though I may have a big impact on the kids, you all have a potential to have a much larger impact because you're there with the kids every single day."
Ferrell's faith is probably a bit bigger than a mustard seed, and now he'll work to move those mountains here at home- one stone at a time.
"It's not about receiving the notoriety, it's more about paying people back for the help that they gave me."
The other half of Ferrell’s contribution went to the Robins Foundation Family Crisis Fund.
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