Kendrick Bourne came to New England with clear intentions: to help the Patriots on the field, and his new community off of it.
The wide receiver benefitted from mentorship all his life, and believed Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts was the perfect cause to get involved with. Mutual connections between his representation, Disruptive Sports, and the non-profit led to a meeting to discuss a partnership, but president and CEO Mark O'Donnell was honest about the commitment it would require from the athlete.
"Kendrick wanted to do something that was a direct service, and so they called us and asked for a meeting because this is the kind of mission that Kendrick is interested in," O'Donnell said. "I was really forthcoming and said this has to be something he cares about because if not, it just doesn't work. He's busy. He has a lot on his mind. From what I hear it's a pretty extensive playbook. If he's not into it, if his heart is not there, it just doesn't work."
Bourne went home and thought about it, but his mind came back to how much he benefited from having a father, brothers, and an involved high school coach to keep him on track.
Then, he doubled down, and has been an honorary board member of the organization ever since.
"I grew up with a lot of mentors in my life," Bourne said before competing in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts' 47th Annual Golf Classic with teammate Devin Asiasi at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth on Thursday.
"My dad, high school coach, my brother all supported me throughout my journey growing up and helped me get to this path to where I'm at now, getting over a lot of obstacles that I would have dealt with (alone) if I didn't have them in my life."
Before the tournament, Bourne and Asiasi spent time with some local Littles and their Bigs, taking photos, signing autographs, and tossing a football around.
They took to the links, along with a massive field of over 400 participants, making for one of the biggest charity golf tournaments in New England. The outing, according to O'Donnell, brought in upwards of $1 million – proceeds that will get put to work to enroll, recruit and provide professional support for matches to utilize.
It's similar to the mentorship Bourne received from his high school coach Don Johnson. The two weren't blood relatives, but Johnson looked after him as if they were.
"He was like the high school security guard and my coach at the same time, so he was always present, telling me to go to class, telling me which classes to take so I can be eligible for the NCAA, and different things like that. He just put me on the right path and it distracted me from distractions -- which is the key. I'm just very thankful for him, and it was a big part of my life and helped me get to college."
Now, Bourne helps to inspire others to do the same with the reach he has, entering his sixth season in the NFL.
Serving as an honorary board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Mass., he is privy to its strategic priorities, gets the organization exposure on social media, and offers his own input.
"Kendrick really is focused on bringing out, and helping us recruit -- especially more men -- to be Bigs to boys. It's a real need in the city," O'Donnell said. "There are a lot more female volunteers than male volunteers and Kendrick wanted to take that on with us. He wanted to get involved. He wanted to be a leader to the youth around the city that could look at him and say, you know, he's part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters, so take away any stigma of needing a mentor or wanting a mentor. And if Kendrick is there, I want to be there too. The same thing goes for Devin."
The work won't end there, though.
With two golf annual golf tournaments now in the books, Bourne is planning a youth football camp with the non-profit in hopes to inspire others to become mentors.
"Our platform is big, and we can use it to help others," Bourne said. "If I could start it and help others come along, then I'm going to use my platform to start the fire."
To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Mass. click here.