When it comes to mentoring at-risk kids, a big part of the job is just showing up.
And that’s just what Cox Enterprises’ Jim Young has been doing for years through his involvement with the Beyond School Walls program with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. The organization recognized him recently with a Defender of Potential Award for his work with Chamblee Charter High School – and specifically for being an exemplary mentor to his Little Brother, Melvin.
Jim says the key to influencing kids like Melvin is demonstrating consistency and unconditional love.
“For a lot of these kids, people will show up for three months or six months and then disappear from their lives,” said Jim, a senior manager in Integrated Business Technology. “For me, it’s about being present and honoring your commitments. I just show up. If I don’t show up, I can’t impact anybody. It’s really as simple as that.”
Small investment, big return
After establishing a relationship with Melvin – “very shy, very smart” high school senior – Jim has encouraged him to come out of his shell by joining an engineering club and getting some real-world job experience. Melvin is separated from his parents and lives with his aunt. His ambition is to attend culinary school, Jim said.
“He’s got a bright future,” Jim said. “If you say ‘Here’s something that would help you or look good on your resume,’ he’s very willing to try it.”
As a father of four children whose ages range from 27 to 22 and a former foster parent, relating to children comes naturally for Jim. Through Beyond School Walls, Jim meets with Melvin during the workday as he and the other kids in the program go through a series of guided activities on a virtual meeting platform. The time commitment is minimal – about two hours, every other week.
For Jim, he says it’s a small investment for a big return. Not only does he get to help improve someone else’s life, he has made connections with dozens of like-minded employees from across all Cox divisions.