Impact

From Unsung Heroes To Hometown Heroes

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For the anniversary of our Mankind Hero fragrance, we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: the nation's largest donor-and volunteer-supported mentoring network. $2 for every purchase of limited-edition Kenneth Cole Mankind Hero (up to $60,000) will be donated to BBBSA.
We interviewed 3 committed BBBSA mentors who explain how volunteering has enriched their lives.
New York
Oyeleye aka “Oye”

Oye is passionate about mentoring and exhibits this through his commitment to his Little, Deon. These two can be seen laughing, playing sports, exploring their neighborhood (they’re both from Rockaway, NY), telling jokes and seeing movies together. This past winter, Oye taught Deon how to ice skate. They’ve developed a close bond and talk openly about family, friends, goals, and school.

Oye

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS?
BBBS is an amazing organization that has provided me an outlet to continue my passion for inspiring our youth. I’m a Big to an AWESOME Little Brother, Deon, and I motivate him to overcome his challenges and envision a successful future for himself. At the same time, Deon’s youthful energy reminds me to smile, enjoy myself, and appreciate life. Serving as a Big has been both rewarding and fun and I call on all those who are able to volunteer as well.

WHAT PEOPLE AND/OR EVENTS INSPIRED YOU TO DO THE WORK THAT YOU DO TODAY?
As a first-generation American, navigating the college application process proved to be a daunting task. My guidance counselor connected me with a college prep program, and a team of selfless volunteers organized college visits, reviewed my essays, and motivated me to apply to schools I otherwise thought were out of reach. The investment these individuals made in my future inspired a commitment to uplifting my community and having a positive impact on the generations after me.

WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE TRYING COURAGEOUSLY TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
Everyone has the ability to make a difference in the world, and even the smallest gesture can go a long way in helping others. I’ve seen many people hesitate in engaging in service initiatives because they falsely believe they can’t lend enough of a helping hand. Every effort to support others, whether big or small, is a step in the right direction to making our world a better place.

Oye - Quote


Los Angeles
Travis

For more than 6 years, Travis has been a Big Brother to Lyrik. Travis is also a strong advocate for BBBS and talks passionately about how much the program and his relationship with Lyrik has impacted him. He has referred at least 30 of his friends who have become Big Brothers and Big Sisters. In 2015, Travis hosted a fundraiser with his Hollywood friends and raised over $100,000 to build three schools in Senegal. Last summer, Travis took 6 matches from Big Brothers Big Sisters in Los Angeles (including Lyrik) to build a school in a small village of Senegal.

Travis

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS?
Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed my life. I came to the program seeking a way to contribute to society and do something positive with my life and I was handed a golden opportunity to mentor a young man who comes from a very different life than me. I love how easily my Little Brother became a big part of my life and vice versa.  It is like our friends and families just merged. I love his brother and sister, grandma and grandpa, mom and cousin dearly and he is close with my community. I didn’t realize at the time in order to find some solace within myself, I had to learn to give and share parts of me I had been holding so close. This program has taught me to show up for someone in need of a positive light and I have learned to stand up for him and for his life. This program is a vehicle for change for all parties involved. In mentoring my Little from his teenage years into early manhood, I’ve had to walk the walk and learn to be a man for his sake. BBBS creates a safe space for transformation to happen and for lives to change.

WHAT PEOPLE AND/OR EVENTS INSPIRED YOU TO DO THE WORK THAT YOU DO TODAY?
I’ve always been inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. because of his quest for freedom and justice. He died fighting for equality and for human rights and never backed down from what he believed. I also see the human race as ONE FAMILY, ONE PEOPLE, so anything I can do to help bridge that gap in my own life is an opportunity I’m excited to take. Paul Newman’s philanthropic work always stood out to me and I’ve always respected his love for creating a safe space for children to be themselves.  The dedication he had to contributing to society in a way that would have a lasting impression was admirable and if I could spread some positive ripples around the planet with my short time here, then I can die a happy man.

WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE TRYING COURAGEOUSLY TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
I have no advice for someone who is trying to change the world, because clearly they have purpose and faith that they can, so HAVE AT IT and thank you for being a force for good in the world!

Travis - Quote


Chicago
Derek

Kyron and Big Brother Derek just celebrated their 5-year anniversary with BBBS. Kyron’s mother enrolled him in the program as she wanted him to have an experience outside of what she knows and because he lacked a strong, active male role model in his life. Looking back on their five years together, Kyron says that his experiences with Derek gave him a chance to have fun and to have someone to look up to.

Derek

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS?
Building a relationship with my Little Brother over the past five years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am confident that Kyron and I will have a relationship that lasts far beyond his high school graduation in June and beyond our involvement in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  I could not be more thankful for our match and for all we have learned from one another. The experience is equally as fulfilling as a Big as it is for a Little. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for Kyron.

WHAT PEOPLE AND/OR EVENTS INSPIRED YOU TO DO THE WORK THAT YOU DO TODAY?
Being raised in a small Midwestern city, my parents instilled in me the importance of giving back to my community from a young age. Through high school and college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to coach/mentor younger student athletes and pass along lessons and values I had learned from my family and my own mentors. Service and mentorship is something I cherish and will always find time for, even in the bustle of city life, because I have seen the positive effects first hand.

WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE TRYING COURAGEOUSLY TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
Find something you are truly passionate about and take positive action. Maintain perspective, but allow yourself to be inspired by the compassion of others. Changing the entire world is a daunting task, but changing one person's world is realistic and possible every day.

Derek - Quote


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Learn more at www.bbbs.org