Edward was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s been a police officer in Davidson County for 16 years and serves as the Community Coordinator, bridging the gap between our citizens and council members. He’s also been a Big Brother for eight years. But his journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee started long before that.
When Edward was in fifth grade, he was enrolled as a Little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee program because he and his parents felt he needed a little extra guidance. He was matched with a Big Brother who was a student at Vanderbilt University. Every week, he would come by and take Edward out to introduce him to things in the community that he wouldn’t normally get a chance to experience.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters helped me tremendously as a youth. It gave me exposure to different programs and different activities in my community that I didn’t know about,” Edward says. “It opened my eyes to what was out there.”
Edward went to Vanderbilt sporting events with his mentor, including his first football and basketball game ever. They also went to plays together. Edwards says that exposure to different things he wouldn’t normally do allowed him to walk a straighter path growing up.
The time Edward spent with his Big Brother had a major impact on his life and he knew he wanted to be a mentor for a young person to help them in the same way when he was older. “I remember Big Brothers Big Sisters and what it did for me. I remember at that age feeling like no one cared or there were really not a lot of options. People didn’t understand what I was going through as a kid. Just knowing the impact I could do to help pull another young man’s potential out of him. That’s what drew me to be Big,” says Edward.
Edward is now a Big in our site-based program, where he meets his Little at school each week. He’s been matched with his Little Brother, Demonte, for eight years and describes him as patient and a skilled listener. They enjoy hanging out at the school gym, playing board games, reading comic books and playing jacks. Edward and Demonte also like to help each other with assignments. Edward helps Demonte with his school work and Demote helps Edward with his work as a Community Coordinator. Demonte hopes to be a police officer when he grows up, too.
“One of the most rewarding things about being a Big is the trust that has been built between me and Demote and seeing him open up more to me. I look forward to visiting him at school every week and learning things about him, learning about his family, talking to him about what I did over the weekend and vice versa,” Edward says.
As a police officer, Edward emphasizes the importance of youth mentorship. He comments on how studies have shown that young men that have mentors are less likely to be introduced to the criminal justice system. “Mentorship is just so important. It’s a lot like being put in the middle of nowhere without a compass,” says Edward. “Having someone to be there with you step by step, not just to say yes to everything, but just to be there to guide you.” He believes that if more youth had mentors, the world would be in a much better place.
“I would say to anyone considering being a Big to do it. You’re going to learn so much more about yourself. You’re going to become a better leader, a better person, a better family member just by spending more time with kids to help them reach their potential,” says Edward.
Edward sits on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, helping us defend the potential of our youth with his valuable perspective as a former Little.