Calden and Alden Hopkins | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Calden and Alden Hopkins

Photo by Trip Burns.

When Calden and Alden Hopkins talk about their lives, a picture of strong family devoted to service emerges.

The twins, 41, were born and reared in Jackson in a big, sprawling family. Together, the two enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Callaway High School.

"We were scheduled to go to the 'sands,'" Cal says, referring to the first Gulf War, but the conflict was over before they were deployed. Instead, they went to Okinawa, Japan.

Al stuck with the military. He has attended several colleges including Jackson State University and Alcorn University, where he taught logistics through the ROTC program. Now a first lieutenant in the Army, Al also did one tour of duty in Iraq in 2010. He is enrolled in William Carey University in Hattiesburg, where he lives.

Cal took a business path. He started at Krystal in high school, and after the Marines, he became a general manager. He's worked with several fast food and retail chains, and opened a number of Just for Feet stores. Today, he's the director of food services at Sprint Mart, managing food and coffee for 26 locations, and lives in Jackson.

The twins' purpose in life, though, comes from the values their grandmother and her eight daughters instilled in them: keeping the family together and making things right. The twins have nine children between them (they're both divorced) and 26 cousins, most with kids of their own. The glue is their giving spirits.

"I feel blessed and fortunate that I know what God called me to do," Cal says.

"... The position that we take is to teach and help--if the person wants to receive it." There's no point in forcing a point of view on another, he says. Instead, meet them where they are and love them.

The Hopkins family nonprofit, Family Unity Now, sprang from family visits to their great-grandmother in a nursing home, where, the two say (in unison), "We didn't just visit her; we visited the whole place."

"The premise (of Family Unity) was anything to do with the family as regards mental, physical, financial and spiritual (health)," Cal says. "We empower the family to go back into the community to do the same thing."

Two years ago, Cal and Al took their mission to the Internet with "Good Twin Bad Twin" on Facebook (Mondays at 10 p.m.) and now, they're on PEG TV (Thursdays at 10:30 p.m.). They take opposing view-
points on a variety of subjects, from crime and teen pregnancy to surviving cancer and family finances.

"Our mission is to get involved," Al says, to inform and educate.

The twins take on elephant-in-the-room topics, Cal adds, "so that, at the end of the day, we're all a little bit better."

"Nothing is off the table."

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