When you ask a child who their role models are they are likely to name a celebrity, athlete or maybe even a first responder. But what about the everyday person; someone they can relate to? Valley resident Jimmy Scroggins says his goal is to encourage youth across Arizona to keep pushing and find their passion. To some, Scroggins is already doing a hero’s work.
Scroggins officially founded the 4Life Foundation in 2019 but has been actively engaged in his Phoenix community for six years. As a kid, Scroggins didn’t feel like there was anyone, or any organization, that was focused on empowering and motivating youth. As an adult, this inspired him to use his platform to help guide future community leaders and make a positive difference.
Arizona PBS: What inspired you to start the 4Life Foundation?
Jimmy Scroggins: I didn’t see a lot of positive organizations that were 100% committed to just helping young people. I wanted to create something that could provide magical experiences and the fact that it has evolved into that is just absolutely emotional and unreal.
AZPBS: What is the overall goal for your foundation?
Scroggins: I want to reach as many people as I possibly can and just ultimately help younger people understand that they too are capable of going out and serving their community in ways that they see fit — it doesn’t always have to be some movie star or NBA player. We have the ability to go back into our own communities and make the appropriate changes or experiences that we feel lacked when we were that young kid.
AZPBS: What are some of the events that you hold to fundraise for the community?
Scroggins: Lets go to 2020, the whole world is going crazy, right? Everyone is like, ‘Is Christmas cancelled?’ This event [Christmas drive] has grown massively every single year, and I knew there was a need to go out into the community and be a pillar that promotes positivity. We were able to service 3,000 to 4,000 kids. To show up to a parking lot and to see vehicles backed up about five to six miles was absolutely unreal. Then to watch all of those vehicles navigate their way through this parking lot filled with toys, candy and love … it was very magical.
AZPBS: What does Black History Month mean for you, your community and your foundation?
Scroggins: With me being African American, it means a lot to me to be able to have a moment in time where the world kind of just stops for a second and highlights the many things that Black individuals have been able to do and put their stamp on. I think I speak for myself and the community when I say it means a lot to younger Black kids because they’re able to stop and say ‘A Black person did this? So, it’s not so far-fetched for me to hope and dream, right?’
AZPBS: What are some of the changes you have noticed in the kids you work with from the start of your journey to where the foundation is now?
Scroggins: Just the overall positivity. These kids are reaching out to me and they are just so excited about waking up. Maybe they were having issues with a parent and all of a sudden they’re waking up and they’re just able to say ‘Hi mom, I love you.’ They’re able to study more and be more focused and determined. I’ve been able to impact so many young people on so many different levels; just seeing how much those young people are impacting their families and seeing their visions for their own success is insane.
AZPBS: What is a piece of advice you would give to a kid who might feel like they don’t have purpose or hope?
Scroggins: Find something that you are extremely passionate about — something you love — and just go from there. When you find that passion write it down and believe in it. Just keep pushing through whatever obstacles come your way. And again, just continuously find a way to think positive.
Find out more about the 4Life Foundation on their website and learn how you can volunteer.
Hear more from local Black leaders in our Our Voices series.
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.