BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In September of 2008, Phillip Howard began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham. He was matched with Cordae Kimbrough.
“From the moment I met him, he’s just stuck with me,” Howard said.
Howard, the 2013 Big Brother of the Year in Greater Birmingham, has been mentoring Cordae for five years now.
“We were in the school based program where we only met for an hour a week. Then, when the summer came, he just kept calling, and from then on, he was like, ‘Well I don’t want to stop our relationship,’ so we suggested we do the weekend match program where you spend two weekends a month with your little. From that, it has been non-stop. We talk on the phone almost every day.”
“I decided to change over to the other one so we could hang out more and volunteer more,” Kimbrough said, and his actions support his words.
After throwing out the first pitch at Friday night’s Barons game, Cordae and Phillip went to the concourse to head to their seats. They made a stop at the Big Brothers Big Sisters table that was setup by the main gate. Cordae spent the next five minutes handing out flyers for the program that brought Phillip into his life.
“His primary thing is, ‘I want to help people, and I want to make people better as I become better.’ That’s really his mindset,” Howard said. “It’s something he’s taken to. I introduced it to him, but he’s taken it to a whole other level.”
Cordae, who is one of Howard’s three “littles,” describes volunteer work as “fun,” a trait he has picked up from his mentor.
“A lot of people think volunteering is a lot of work, but the truth is it’s not. It’s very easy,” Howard said.
The time Howard has spent volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters has really impacted Cordae.
“He teaches me new things and we just have fun. I teach my little brother things he taught me, and I just pass it on. I go around telling other kids what he’s done. It’s really fun hanging out with him.”
Howard says that impact has been mutual.
“It’s been all about him. I’m really excited that he’s allowed me to be in his life because he’s enriched my life. When I see him succeed, it’s like, ‘Ok, it’s worth it,’ and he’s succeeding a lot. He’s one of the best soccer players in Jefferson County. Now, I’m working on him to try to as hard as he works at soccer, to work double that in the classroom.
“He really makes me proud to be his mentor. He makes it easy because he’s really a good kid.”