JOINT BASE LANGLEY EUSTIS, Va.
Back in the 1990s, a young U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kevin Warrick was given the opportunity to volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Hampton, Virginia.
During his time as a volunteer, Warrick mentored Jemal Murray, an 11-year-old who later went on to serve in the U.S. Army from 1997 to 2006 as a fuel handler.
Murray was inspired by Warrick to continue the tradition of mentorship, and now serves as a mentor to 15-year-old Cory Johnson.
Warrick served in the USAF for 26 years, and retired from here in 2010.
Since his childhood, Warrick, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, had a mission to give back to the community that helped him so much throughout the years. With his community’s support, he was inspired to do more with his life through education and military service.
Warrick said he used the discipline and values he learned in the military to shape his style of mentorship.
“The Air Force core values helped me with the way I mentored Jemal,” Warrick said. “The Air Force provides Airmen stable culture so all Airmen can excel in their career. All kids need stability in their life to reach their full potential.”
It was this structure and stability that stuck with Murray, who kept the teachings close into adulthood.
Passing it on
Today, Murray’s style of mentoring those around him isn’t so different from how he was once mentored as a young boy.
The former mentee credits his wanting to become a mentor himself, to the lessons he learned from Warrick and wanted to pass on to the next generation.
“I was surprised and grateful he made that decision to give back to the community and become a Big Brother,” said Warrick. “I’m sure the Army influenced his decision to continue to serve our community.”
Warrick taught Murray the importance of giving back.
“One of the biggest things you can give somebody is your time,” Murray said. “Your time is so valuable that people pay you for it, and it’s one of those things that you can’t get back once you give it.”
Along with providing life lessons and shared values, the mentors and mentees in the BBBS program do a lot of recreational things together, such as going bowling, going to the movies and playing video games.
According to Johnson, Murray’s mentorship has already made an impact in his life.
“He’s exposed me to a lot of new things,” said Johnson. “It’s very good having an older man in your life to steer you in the right direction.”
Johnson plans on continuing the tradition to mentor young men when he grows up, and even has thoughts of joining the USAF someday.