To whom much is given, much is required. Wyky Jean knows that he has been given so much because he didn’t have it for most of his childhood. What he provides to students today is what he hungered for before coming to CCA. God provided him a culture where he was loved, challenged and inspired, because of a generous donor’s gift, it’s what he now shares.
I wasn’t a terrible kid. Growing up in one of the rougher parts of Pompano, I just went with the flow. When we moved to Fort Lauderdale to get out of the neighborhood, my sister immediately got me plugged in at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. That’s where I met Pastor Reuben, Pastor Doug, Devin Pierce, and Steve Trager and built friendships through the youth service and Big Brothers. Before that, I really didn’t have any consistent male role models.
Seeing the impact that Calvary was making in my life, my older sister, Wanda Jean, got this bright idea to get me into Calvary Christian Academy (CCA). Along with a scholarship, an anonymous donor wanted to support our desire for a fresh start. Their gift made it possible for me to attend CCA my sophomore year.
If I had the chance, I would thank the donor for providing a safe haven for me. Their investment enabled me to experience a culture of godly accountability, wisdom, and support.
Between working summers in the Facilities Department with Matt Hickman, football workouts, and camps, I didn’t have time to get into trouble. Coach Kaiser and his phenomenal coaching staff – Trent Gamble, Guy Shashaty, Bernard King, and Jon Schwab – taught me how to face adversity. They shaped and molded me, not only as an athlete but also as a young man. They told me I could be a leader and put me in leadership roles.
Each one of my coaches challenged me and groomed me for battle. Whether we won or lost, I felt like I couldn’t let those guys down. They were giving me hope and opportunity.
The teachers at CCA established a family atmosphere where I felt supported as well. Teachers like Mrs. Hendry and Mrs. Darby ignited my love of math with their enthusiasm and Mr. Negron and Mr. Green worked alongside me to give the skills and access to technology to complete assignments. They all prepared me for the next step in my journey.
After graduating from Southeast Missouri State, a couple of my friends and I volunteered at the Christian Boxing Academy at the local Salvation Army. We’d run through the hood with the kids encouraging them and building their confidence. Then we’d run by the university and talk about college life and how to get there. It opened their eyes and helped them dream.
After all the people who poured into me, I was in a position to pass it on.
My buddy’s mom suggested we start mentoring students where they spent most of their time – at school. We began volunteering at a school one day a week, building relationships, and teaching life skills to the students. I would get off work around 11:30pm and at 5am we’d meet at the kitchen table to brainstorm what would become the Honorable Young Men Club.
Shortly after creating the Honorable Young Men Club, we saw the impact. The deputy school superintendent, Christa Turner, blew us away with data on the improvement in students going through our program including attendance, grades, and behavioral reports. What we were doing was different and we agreed with the board to expand our commitment for greater effect.
I am a walking testimony of the value of the donor’s investment and like the fruit of a seed planted many years ago, the kids in our program are the harvest of that gift.
This big initiative required we leave our jobs and invest in the program full-time to create an innovative program, curriculum, and system to equip and empower young males. We wanted to shape the direction of these student’s lives. After all the people who poured into me, I was in a position to pass it on.
During high school, I remember looking around and thinking, “I don’t know if I’ll even be able to come here next year.” but through the generosity of that anonymous donor, I graduated CCA class of 2009.
If I had the chance, I would thank the donor for providing a safe haven for me. Their investment enabled me to experience a culture of godly accountability, wisdom, and support. At CCA, my heart, my mind and my spirit were prepared for me to do what I’m a part of now. As Christians, God calls us to use our tithes, offerings, and gifts to restore His kingdom. I am a walking testimony of the value of the donor’s investment and like the fruit of a seed planted many years ago, the kids in our program are the harvest of that gift.
I think about the quote by Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Along with Cantrell Andrews, Kweku Arkorful, and Aaron Adeoye, Wyky Jean co-founded the Honorable Young Men Club. The HYMC seeks to establish a community of empowerment for young men where they learn how to communicate, persevere through adversity, and be equipped for success. Learn more about the world they’re changing at @HonorableYoungMenClub and watch the BIG Dream Gathering’s Youtube feature Shaping Future Leaders by Building Strong Men in Missouri.