BIG BROTHER OF THE YEAR, CONOR MULVANEY
COMMUNITY MENTORING

I remember walking to meet my Little Brother, Jared and his mom. It was a warm San Diego summer afternoon. I had recently graduated from Law School and felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement at the prospect of mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was greeted with immediate warmth from Jared’s mom, Mayra. Jared reminded me of myself at his age – shy, reserved, and somewhat uncertain of myself. I felt an immediate connection to Jared. I started the program with the intention to simply give back, but was gifted with so much more from Jared and his family.

During our first outing, Jared and I went hiking and tried to identify local wildlife. Jared was hesitant to connect at first, however as the hike went on, he began to open up and reveal how intelligent, thoughtful, and kind of a person he truly was. We laughed a lot and got to know each other. This was the beginning of a friendship I will value for the rest of my life.

Weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. Jared expressed to me his hopes and dreams. He was beyond brave as he shared his fears and worries as well. I could see his self-esteem and confidence steadily grow. We connected over our shared love of learning. He would bring up interesting anecdotes from his English and History classes where we would discuss world events and stories he read. I found that there was no “ah-ha” moment in the match where his dreams and goals were self-realized. Instead, it was the constant presence in one another’s lives. I found that our outings were something that we both always looked forwards to. We spoke of the importance of kindness and empathy. We spoke of the importance of respect and working tirelessly to achieve those hopes and dreams.

At times, life was hard for both of us. We both had difficulties in our family lives. This in no way slowed down or harmed our match. Instead, it taught us both to be vulnerable and open with one another as we expressed the feelings these waves of life cast at us. By simply spending time together and sharing life experiences, I saw Jared thrive into a leader in his family and school.

Mentorship and Jared remind me of what is so important in life. The same shy, reserved boy I once met is now approaching the end of high school. He is a varsity athlete with a nearly 4.0 GPA and will attend a great undergraduate institution. To say I am proud is an understatement. Jared has an incredibly bright future because of the person he is, and I like to believe that Big Brothers Big Sisters allowed me the opportunity to have a role in that process.

 

In June 2021, I embarked on a new endeavor – fatherhood. In the weeks following the birth, I was able to introduce Jared to my son. It was one of the most special moments of my life. Seeing Jared hold my son, Bobby, put into perspective what mentorship is all about. The shy, hesitant boy I first met was now holding my son. However, he now stood with his shoulders held a bit higher with an air of confidence and sincerity I am beyond proud of.

When looking at my relationship with Jared I now realize that I am truly the lucky one. Jared has given me more than I ever hoped for. He changed my understanding of selflessness and made me realize that constant dedication and focus on simply doing small actions of good make the world a better place. For that I am eternally grateful for Jared and Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County.