Big Brother of the Year: Makes a Big Difference

Jolen and Murray at BB&T Field

Having a mentor can make a huge impact in the life of a child, giving them confidence to reach their potential and shape a positive future. That’s what Jolen says about his mentor, Murray Miller. The two were matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters in Winston-Salem six years ago. “After I met Mr. Miller, I wanted to be like him,” Jolen said. “I was excited when they told me that I was matched with a Big Brother. I was even more excited when I discovered the type of person he was.” This year, Miller was selected as Big Brother of the Year and was introduced by his once-reserved little brother, Jolen, who is now 15 and a high school football player. Each year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America selects one Big Brother and one Big Sister out of thousands of volunteers and recognizes them at their National Conference. Miller, a part-time adjunct instructor in math in the basic skills program at Forsyth Tech and the branch manager at Winston-Salem Federal Credit Union, says the role he values most is being a big brother to Jolen. At the same time, Jolen looks up to Miller and is grateful for their relationship. The two have also developed shared interests, from watching football to visiting art museums and talking about history. Sometimes Jolen’s mom drops him off at Miller’s office at the end of the day on Fridays, so Jolen can see how Miller works. When they spend time together, Jolen and Miller talk about everything from sports to more serious topics, like challenging obstacles and important life decisions. “We enjoy talking with each other, and every conversation is open and on the table—whether we talk about sports, school, or life,” Miller said. “When it’s time for a serious talk, we sometimes take a short hike up Pilot Mountain. I even told him about some of my childhood mistakes, and that made it easy to talk with him about what he’s going to face in school and in life.” Miller can tell that Jolen is optimistic about what lies ahead and is grateful for the opportunity he has had to make a difference in his life. “It’s an honor to impact this young man,” Miller said. “He is full of hope for the future.”