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Marlow Strives to Be a Positive Presence for Kids in Arkadelphia


By Kev Moyè

DHS Media Specialist/Writer

Derrick Marlow jumped in the air, and once his feet landed on the green grass, he ran almost 10 yards from the sideline onto the football field.       

That’s where Marlow hugged one of the players, shook the hand of another one of his athletes, and then smiled big while extending both arms straight ahead and pointing his index fingers at a fellow coach.            

In the midst of the excitement, one of Marlow’s players sulked instead of celebrating with his teammates.                                                                                       

Eventually, Marlow approached the player, threw his arm around the young boy’s shoulders, pulled him close and said, “You’re a great athlete, but your potential downfall is going to be your attitude. Change your attitude. You must fix your attitude.”

Afterward, the child slowly walked to the sideline.    

“I want to help these kids become productive members of society. So I talk to them in one-on-one situations. I show them how to speak to a person respectfully, and how to carry themselves,” Marlow said. “Some of our kids have no father figure. So I do what I can to show them the right path in life. I don’t want to see any child hurting, angry, or going to jail.”

Marlow, the Arkadelphia Human Development Center (AHDC) residential program care coordinator, knows people who got in trouble as a youngster and struggled to fulfill their potential.

“My best friend was in jail for most of his 20s,” Marlow said. “I use sports to teach life lessons to my athletes to keep them from going through the same difficulties that my best friend did.”   

A father of two and a devoted husband, the Arkadelphia native also involves his wife in the mentoring he does outside of the center.   

“My wife is awesome. She’s out in the community helping kids teaching them right from wrong, too,” Marlow said. “Me and my wife have bought trophies for our players, just to give them something to get motivated by and look forward to.”

A 17-year employee of AHDC, Marlow’s responsibility is to make sure the residents’ living quarters are comfortable, clean, and safe. Regardless of the weather, Marlow drives a golf cart on the campus pathways making assessment stops at his assigned client homes.     

Marlow doesn’t hesitate to be both a coach to clients and a teammate to his staff.

“The clients are my extended family. Learning to care for others, like my people here at the center, has helped me become more compassionate,” he said. “I love my job. I think about my clients often. Some of them rarely see their family, so they depend on you to take care of them and love them like family. In fact, I love to just sit down and talk with them and laugh with them.”       

Aside from coaching football and softball teams, Marlow is also involved in the community working with kids through the Masonic Excelsior Universal Lodge No. 13 and Macedonia Baptist Church.  

He credits much of who he is to what he’s learned from his family, clients at the center, fellow staff members, and even those awesome, but sometimes hardheaded, athletes.          

“I came to the center as a naïve, irresponsible, 21-year-old. By working at the center I’ve learned that it’s important to serve other people and be mature enough to handle my responsibilities,” he said. “When coaching the kids or working at the center, I’m always looking at facial expressions. I love seeing the kids smile. When I’m at work, getting a big smile from one of our clients feels great. That’s what it’s really about for me. I love seeing the smiles and making people’s lives better.”    

(Derrick Marlow was nominated and featured for the Living the Mission series at DHS, which focuses on staff members who go above and beyond their typical functions. If you know someone who lives the mission of DHS and should be featured for the Living the Mission series, contact Kev Moyè at kevin.moye@dhs.arkansas.gov.)                 

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