When I was 11 years old, I believe my heroes were my mother, father, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Brandy and Gwen Stefani. I looked up to the people who obtained a great deal of success in the positions I aspired to obtain and those who I felt protected me from the evil of the world. “I would do anything for you,” is something my mother often said and so I felt it to be true.
This week I met 11 y.o. Kimaun at a DHS shelter. He recently moved to NY from the South and described his time in transition as fun because he’s been able stay at “so many hotels.” Kimaun was a cool kid. He told me his comfort and motivation come from Music and Sports. While decorating his pillowcase, Kimaun wrote out words like NFL, Giants, Games and Music.
I asked Kimaun to get more descriptive and start writing down the names of heroes or people who give him comfort. He first started with “Migos”, “Future”, “Young Thug” (all rappers) and then he wrote the number 23. I asked why 23 and he said, “JORDAN! The best”. I told Kimaun I totally agreed that 23 represents the best and that’s why I have a small tattoo of the number on my wrist. After a slew of expected questions about my tattoo, Kimaun picked up the marker and began to write again. “Lebron James” was the next name added to the pillowcase and then after taking a pause and tapping the marker to his chin, he wrote “Nicole”.
I wondered if he wrote my name because I told him I was a representation of the best or if he simply thought I was cool enough to make the cut. Regardless of the reasoning the only thing that mattered to me was that Kimaun had a new example of a person who gives him comfort. I left him with the idea that you can see greatness in yourself doing something other than those you look up to. For me, this was a reminder that my team must continue to create a platform for philanthropist and everyday heroes. I volunteer on a full-time basis because I’m continuously reminded by our youth that I’m on the right track.