James’ Story

Journey Back to Success

James Watkins

Mental Health Association Oklahoma and Family and Children's Services

The journey from homelessness to college was paved with helping hands for James Watkins.

James began his adult life as a rodeo cowboy, riding horses and roping calves. Years of competition left him with a bruised body, and later, a tattered view on life.

“In the blink of an eye, I found myself homeless,” he said.

He spent a few years walking the streets of downtown Tulsa, seeking warmth in doorways and under bridges.

But intervention by social workers at two United Way partner agencies – Mental Health Association Oklahoma and Family and Children’s Services – helped him get back on his feet.

Today he lives in his own apartment in East Tulsa, provided by Mental Health Association Oklahoma. He is also a full-time student majoring in criminal justice at Brown Mackie College, graduating this summer.

“The future looks bright and I find myself smiling all the time,” he said.