Winnipeg Jets hire homeless artist after receiving his passionate letter

Jamie Hogaboam works on his portrait of Jets great Dale Hawerchuk (screenshot via JetsTV).

Jamie Hogaboam isn’t a hockey player, but his selflessness would make him a valuable addition to any team.

The Winnipeg resident was simply looking to raise money for a local art studio that offers support to artists with mental illness when he penned a letter to the Jets, who have had a partnership with the studio for three years. But Hogaboam, an artist who has suffered with mental illness throughout his life and is currently homeless, got much more than a cheque from the Winnipeg Jets. He got a job.

Via NHL.com

“He wrote me a passionate and articulate letter on the subject of mental health. He referred to his own struggles, but moreso the struggles of others,” Jets co-owner Mark Chipman told NHL.com. “He’s always thinking about other people, which is what drew me to him.”

Hogaboam’s job? He was commissioned by the team to paint player portraits for Winnipeg’s inaugural Hall of Fame class, which includes Dale Hawerchuk, Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson. Hogaboam didn’t just get the job for his selfless nature, however — based on his first piece of work for the team, the guy clearly knows his way around a canvas.

(via JetsTV)

And according to Chipman, he knows his puck as well.

“We approached him for some portrait work for our recently created Hall of Fame, and he was up to it as an artist,” Chipman told NHL.com. “Then when I met with him, it became even more obvious that he was the right guy. He has a phenomenal understanding of the Jets and the players; he’s a bona fide hockey fan.”

It’s a life-changing opportunity for Hogaboam, who runs his own art company and earns a living by selling his paintings for $5 a pop on the street. But this is about much more than money for Hogaboam.

“I have been told by many people struggling with mental illness and poverty that I’m an inspiration to them,” Hogaboam told NHL.com. “I’m glad I can make a difference in people’s lives. It’s tough at times to be helpful when I have my struggles, but it also helps me cope because I’m doing a service to the community and trying to make the world a better place.”

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