Jonathon Meade and his mentee, Jalen Spicer, celebrated their two-year anniversary on August 30th.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, a long established mentoring program, seeks to provide guidance for boys and girls as they navigate the challenges of life by matching them with adult role models.
“Big Brother Big Sisters is cool,” said Jalen, a 14-year-old Cass Tech student. “I’ve liked and enjoyed the program.”
The program has proved beneficial for both Jalen and Meade, an Arkansas native.
When he moved to Michigan in 2010, he wanted to get involved in the community in a meaningful way.
The mentorship program has proved to be the best thing he could have done, he said.
“Not only did I gain a mentee I actually gained an entire family,” Meade said. “I spend lots of time and important holidays with the family. When I visit it’s just like being at home with my family… We watch movies together, eat dinner together and spend holidays together. This is quite amazing. They really have become family.”
Meade explained some of the things he does with his mentee.
“Both of us are foodies,” Meade said. “We go out to eat. Jalen loves pizza. We love to try different pizza all over the city. I help with homework. We go to the riverwalk for walks and to talk, and we went to the Taylor Swift’s concert which was a Big Brothers Big Sisters outing. We were both unsure if we’d like it, but once we got there we were surprised at the number of songs we actually knew. It was a fun event. We see each other two to three times a month, but we talk every day.”
Jalen’s mother, Tabatha Ross, is also pleased with the program and the connection the two have made.
“The very first day they met they got along,” Ross said.
“It’s been a very meaningful relationship for both. My son had a match once before but it slowly dissolved and disappeared.”
Meade says all children can benefit from positive mentoring relationships.
“The misconception about mentoring is kids that are mentored don’t have strong families, and they are underprivileged with little or no support system. That is not true. Jalen has a very strong family and strong support system.”
Meade, an experienced social worker, works as an analyst for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Jalen, an active, involved 14-year-old plays the violin in the Cass Tech Orchestra and spent three weeks this summer at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He also plays chess and was formerly a member of the Detroit City Chess Club.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit states that its mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.