Sometimes we meet students with larger than life personalities, long-lasting legacies, and purpose-filled callings even in their teenage years. We consider it a joy to know these youth and our job to cultivate an environment where they foster and live out their destinies. This was true of Jamain Stephens who was affectionately known in our YES community as Big Fella.
Despite all the promise and purpose Jamain embodied, his life was cut short on Tuesday September 8, 2020. We extend our prayers to Jamain’s family and friends during this difficult time and offer hope to those grieving his absence. Our community and world lost an extremely bright light in Jamain Stephens and felt it was important to reflect on what he meant to YES — and so many other people.
When we reflect on our first encounter with Jamain as a high school sophomore, we not only remember his size and stature and football dexterity, but also his commanding presence and big heart. Students who typically participate in YES’s summer Learn and Earn programming often take on entry-level positions with local organizations in their first few years. Yet, when Jamain began his work with East End Cooperative Ministries everyone involved could quickly see his potential for greatness. After a short period, Jamain was elevated to head mentor where his capacity to inspire, mentor, and lead youth shone through. Throughout the three summers Jamain worked with YES his heart for service was on full display.
Jamain’s intellectual capacity extended beyond his work in the classroom. In addition to his work with East End Cooperative Ministries, Jamain demonstrated his passion for learning through his summer research projects. As an athlete himself, Jamain researched the impact substance abuse and injuries can have on the mental health of athletes.
Also on full display was his infectious personality. One could feel Jamain’s presence as soon as they walked into the room and his contagious smile had an impact on everyone in the YES family. Jamain’s heart, passion, and dedication are the embodiment of YES’s mission and values. The YES family would like to continue to honor the life and legacy of Jamain Stephens by creating a scholarship in his name that benefits students who reflect the same traits and values that Jamain embodied.
Those who are interested in donating to the Jamain Stephens’ Scholarship fund should reach out to Olivia Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.