Jared Wynne: On Being A Big Brother

Every year, we select a Big/Little Brother and a Big/Little Sister match as our Central Texas matches of the year. These matches then go on for consideration as matches of the year at the state level. We are pleased to announce that our own Jared Wynne, and his Little Brother, Michael, have been recognized as this year’s TEXAS Big/Little Brothers of the Year. They will now go on for consideration as the national brother match of the year.

In reflecting on his nomination, Jared shared his thoughts about being a Big Brother, and the importance of mentoring, with us. He has given us permission to share his comments, and his perspective with you as well. We appreciate the power of hearing from Jared, about his experience, in his own words.

Jared Wynne: On Being A Big Brother

I had known for many years that I one day wanted to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As soon as I knew that I could reliably make the commitment to acting as a long-term mentor, I joined up. I knew it was a great decision the day that I made it, but I couldn’t have known just how much of an impact it would have on me, and the tremendous opportunities I would find as a result.

I’ve long believed that the support and development of our youth is among our greatest responsibilities, and one that is often underserved. Working with youth is a real investment into our future. It’s not an easy means for instant gratification, it rarely grabs the headlines, and it’s not going to score many political points. But for all of our concerns over the direction of our society, it would seem to me that the best way to address those concerns is to work directly with each and every youth in need, to make sure that they’re best able to self-actualize and to maximize their own potential.

Every youth has what it takes to make a positive impact on the world. Not every youth gets that chance. This alone is reason enough for us to take more time in investing in our children.

I have every confidence that Michael, my Little Brother, would have achieved success in his life no matter the path he took to get there. He’s an amazing kid. Smart, cool under pressure, and conscientious. But I know from my conversations with him, and from just watching him develop during our time together, that I’ve been able to help him move more expeditiously towards the success that he so deserves. He has found a confidence and belief in himself that is had simply through coming to know that others care about you, have a vested interest in you, and want for your success.

That’s something that sometimes gets lost when people consider youth mentorship as just an idea, rather than as a tangible action. As a mentor, it’s not often about wielding a chalkboard or studiously teaching lessons out of a textbook. It’s about providing a safe space, instilling confidence through trust and support, and making sure that someone like Michael knows exactly how special he really is.

I have had opportunities to impart some lessons in life to Michael, yes. But rarely have they been planned out in advance. Instead, they’ve come naturally through our experiences together.

My time with Michael, and the vantage point I’ve been afforded in watching him come into his own and develop so quickly into the young man of great character that he is, only further inspired my interest in youth development. I have been fortunate enough to find other avenues to pursue this interest alongside Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, as I now serve as president of the Big Impact Group.

Ours is a group of volunteers who work to augment the agency’s pursuits however we best can. Sometimes that’s as simple as organizing additional fundraising for an agency event. Other times, we have hosted our own independent events, or have taken up the torch on the agency’s behalf when it has been overly taxed. We had such an opportunity during the ongoing pandemic, running an annual holiday event on BBBS’ behalf because the agency needed the assistance.

There’s no greater honor than to know that the efforts of the Big Impact Group are helping more youths like Michael to be matched with mentors so that they too can better realize their potential. If there were a means through which we could ensure that every child so in need would receive such help, I would pursue it. Maybe that’s a longer-term goal for our group. We’ll start locally and go from there.

If there’s another honor that does compare to seeing the fruits of the Big Impact Group’s work, it’s that of having watched Michael bloom into the young man that he is today. I’m still not sure that he fully realizes just how capable he really is, but that’s OK. Because he wears that capability on his sleeve now. Everyone around him sees it, and as they get to know him, they get to know and understand his sense of responsibility, his self-belief, and yes, his capability.

It is with only gratitude that I’ve accepted this nomination, and my hope is that through the process of spreading the stories of myself and other nominees, we can further inspire adults across the country and beyond to take part in working with our youth. There’s no better means of building and protecting our future, and there’s no more worthy cause.

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