COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -After growing up in foster care, one Midlands man says he was determined to change the lives of other children in similar situations.
Jamal Stroud launched a mentorship program called “Big Homie Lil Homie” that in two years has gone from serving five children to more than 100 at-risk kids.
“He’s the most humble person that I know, and he has a bigger heart than anyone I know,” said Adrian Peay, a volunteer with Big Homie Lil Homie.
In a sit-down conversation with Stroud, it only takes a moment to see into his giant heart.
“If you're passionate about it, you can kind of make anything happen, so that's the whole thing,” said Stroud. “I'm really passionate about it because I came from a broken background.”
A background that Stroud says included six foster homes before he was six years old.
“When I was in grade school a lot of parents were picking up their children, and I didn't have the liberty to say my mom is coming or my dad's coming,” said Stroud. “At a young age I knew it was critical to have somebody important like that.”
Stroud says his aunt adopted him at the age of 12 and because of her encouragement, he was determined to become that person for others. It’s why he started the nonprofit, “Big Homie Lil Homie” in 2017.
“Most of our kids are from single-parent homes and so we like to step in and help out the moms that are either struggling or having a hard time raising their young boys,” said Peay.
From trips to museums to weekend hangouts, Stroud says the big homies stay in touch with little homies throughout the week through text or facetime.
“I tell a lot of people that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to hang out with a child just that quality time-- 10 minutes, an hour, 15 minutes that's what really makes it,” Stroud added.
It might be impossible to count the hours Stroud has spent pouring back into the lives of others, but the Michael J. Mungo Foundation felt it was important to honor Stroud for his continued impact.
“Sorry guys but I think I have to interrupt here,” said Andy Evans with Mungo Homes as he approached Stroud and Peay during our interview. “Jamal, I just want to commend you for all the work you've put in for all the families and young men… On behalf of the Michael J. Mungo Foundation, we are going to announce you as the latest recipient of our Community Builder award, and there's also $1000 that will be donated to the charity of your choice in your name. Great job- you do a ton for our community and you're an inspiration to us all.”
Stroud is an inspiration who believes what we experience in life can often serve a much greater purpose.
“Everything happens for its own reason,” said Stroud. “I used to ask, “Why is this happening to me?” But now I see why it was happening, so I can actually give back and pour into the other children's lives.”
Stroud says he plans to use his donation to put on a Big Homie Lil Homie teen summit this September. If you’d like more information about that or becoming a mentor for Big Homie Lil Homie you can contact Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org.