Former Little Encourages Strong Potential Future for Current Little
Authenticity, loyalty, and trust. These are three characteristics that Big Brother, Julian Jones, sees as essential when it comes to being an effective mentor for Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters (KSBBBS) Serving Riley County (Manhattan). Being a former Little himself, Julian understands how impactful mentoring relationships can be on youth – especially those facing adversity.
“Even though I didn’t open up much to my Big, he still made a huge impact on my life,” said Jones. “Ask my mom, she wouldn’t believe that I am in the position I am now,” he added, laughing.
Jones decided to pay it forward and was matched with Little Brother Malachi in June of 2020 after almost a year of Malachi being on the waitlist. The urgent need for male volunteers is consistent across the state due to the majority of waiting Littles being male.
A Passion for Potential
Julian grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and described himself as shy and timid. When he was younger, he struggled to make friends and to “put himself out there”. After a particularly hard season for his family, Julian’s mother signed him up to be a Little in the BBBS program in Ohio and Julian was quickly matched with a Big Brother.
When asked what he learned from his Big, he said, “that actions speak louder than words” and that even though they didn’t have a very vulnerable relationship, Julian looked up to him, and said his Big “made a huge impact” in his life. Julian has carried this lesson into his relationship with Malachi as well as the athletes that he mentors as the Assistant Athletic Director at Kansas State University.
When asked why he picked Malachi at his file showing, Julian said that Malachi’s background really resonated with him and that he felt that he “resembled the kind of man that Brittany (Malachi’s mother) was looking for” to mentor her son.
Since the beginning of their match, Julian’s goal has been to “show Malachi that he can do whatever he wants to do” in regard to Malachi’s future. He has tried to show this to Malachi through his actions and not just his words, by showing him around his office, introducing him to his coworkers, and by having hard conversations with Malachi when Julian can tell that “he is uncomfortable being the only black person in the room.” Julian’s goal through all of this is for Malachi to “realize the hope of success that is possible for him if he works hard.”
Julian is now a member of the KSBBBS Riley County Community Leadership Council (CLC). He has been an immense supporter of the program through volunteer recruitment, fundraising, as well as his devotion to his own match relationship with Malachi. We are extremely grateful for his contribution to our community and the lasting impact he will have in Malachi’s life.
A Mother’s Hope
Malachi’s mother, Brittany, said from the beginning, that she wanted Malachi’s Big “To be an African American and a successful man. Someone who is able to give Malachi insight from their own lived experience.” Malachi’s father passed away a few years prior so Brittany also said she desired “a strong male role model for Malachi to be able to look up to.”
Brittany hopes that Malachi will grow in confidence and maturity as he spends more time with Julian and said that she has already seen their relationship getting stronger. According to Brittany, Malachi’s communication skills are better, and he seems to “truly enjoy spending time with Julian now”. The biggest thing that Malachi has learned from his Big thus far is “to always keep your word” and he says that Julian has taught him this by never lying to him.
Towards the end of the interview, Julian shared his “life quote” from minister and human rights activist, Malcolm X. “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” This quote helped Julian rise above his circumstances and poor decisions since he recognizes that he also “isn’t a perfect man”.
To learn more about Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters and to sign up to be a mentor, fill out an inquiry form today.