Rogers Glennon has been participating in HELP Foundation’s events and weekly support meetings since HELP started operating in the fall of 2013. Soon after meeting Rogers, we discovered that he was a tremendously talented artist, with an impressive portfolio of original drawings and paintings.
Rogers’ life story is one of struggle, growth and perseverance. He grew up in a small town of Haddonfield, New Jersey. Because of complicated and difficult family circumstances, he basically ended up raising himself, lacking meaningful parental guidance or healthy role models throughout his childhood and teenage years. Against all odds, his artistic talent opened the doors for him to attend Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in Commercial Art.
After graduating from college, Rogers felt no desire to live in a city, opting for spending four years in the rural country side of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. During that time, he lived in a small cabin in the woods, surrounded by nature, wildlife and virtually no neighbors. While this solitary lifestyle resulted in a severe bout of chronic depression and social withdrawal, it also allowed Rogers to focus his attention on plants and fueled his interest in gardening and landscaping.
After four years of seclusion, Rogers embarked on an eleven-thousand mile cross-country road trip, which eventually landed him in California and Marin County. The year was 1995 and enchanted by the natural beauty of the area and the wonderful, mild climate, he decided to make Marin his permanent home.
Rogers knew that he had to find work, but at the same time, he was acutely aware that his free-spirited, independent personality was best suited for self-employment. Unsure what to do professionally, he decided to spend some time abroad, exploring Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and other countries in Central America. His extensive travels provided him with many unforgettable experiences and influenced his artistic perspective.
The combination of artistic talents, phenomenal gift for masterfully blending design and color, and profound love of nature and the outdoors shaped Rogers’ new career path and step by step, he managed to build a successful multi-crew gardening and landscaping business.
Bringing his artistic vision to garden design enabled Rogers to create spectacular landscapes and he became a sought-after master gardener, working in some of Marin’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
For a while, things were going well and Rogers focused his attention on his landscaping business. However, around 2005, he started feeling physically and mentally overworked, which led to a major burn out and once again, he found himself fighting his life-long battle with chronic anxiety and depression. He began a slow, painful slide into a long period of isolation and social withdrawal. Debilitating chronic depression, combined with mental and emotional health issues which he has been battling since early age, eventually caused Rogers to lose his business, his home and his prized collection of saltwater aquariums.
After two and a half years of being homeless, with the help of Marin County Mental Health Services, Rogers was able to finally get some help in the form of medical services and housing assistance. While having a roof over his head was certainly a big improvement, his depression, anxiety and a sense of profound isolation kept getting worse. Thanks to a chance meeting with Jackson Conaway (HELP Foundation’s Founder), the two men struck up a connection that enabled Jackson to help Rogers begin the journey out of his solitary existence.
Nowadays, Rogers lives in a modest one-bedroom apartment in Kentfield and is working on re-establishing his gardening and landscaping business (you can access his resume and contact info by clicking on this link). His hobbies include candle making (in fact, he is a master candle maker) and salt-water aquariums (he has an incredible depth of knowledge on this topic!). He is also an avid animal lover and enjoys living with his two beloved cats, Lucia and Puka.
In addition to building his landscaping, garden design and installation business, Rogers also does commissioned art projects. He exhibits his art in various community venues and is hoping to start selling artwork at local fairs and markets.
"When I first started working with HELP Foundation, I was leading a very solitary lifestyle, self-isolating and avoiding human contact. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life, and the future seemed pretty blank and hopeless to me. I had no work and I was also not being creative, feeling “stuck” artistically and overwhelmed by even small tasks of everyday life.
I think I most appreciate that Jackson has been able to slowly draw me out of my shell… even a few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would be comfortable meeting him for coffee in a public place, or even answering the phone when he (or anyone else) called me. Thanks to Jackson, all this has been slowly changing for me. During our meetings, he shares his perspective, experience and techniques to help me live a better, healthier, happier life. When we come up with a plan for me to overcome a particular obstacle or issue I’m dealing with, I appreciate that he holds me accountable for sticking to that plan and doing my homework.
Thanks to HELP Foundation, I have been able to participate in the weekly coffee groups, meet other people like me who struggle with similar issues so I no longer feel completely alone in the world. I have been enjoying the outings and events that HELP Foundation has been organizing – they allow me to participate in activities that I would have not been able to experience otherwise. For example, not too long ago, when we went on a trip to Napa to visit the di Rosa Art Preserve, I had a nice meal in a restaurant – that was the first time I went to a restaurant in ten years!
Overall, Jackson and HELP Foundation have been a constant encouragement for me to get out into the world, gave me a sense of being a part of the community, have supported me in my efforts to be less self-destructive and to live a healthier life. Also, what’s really important to me – they have encouraged me to continue working on my art. I feel less isolated and alone, and more hopeful and optimistic about my future."