Service and giving back to others have always been central to My’chal Wilkins’ life. My’chal credits this to his grandparents—some of his earliest memories are of them welcoming family, friends and people with nowhere else to go into their home in Orange, New Jersey. “The house was always packed,” he says. “They instilled in us that what they had, it wasn’t just for them, it was for other people.”
This lesson is something he’s brought to his eight-year career at Audible, where he leads a Customer Care team of 17 people. “I’m always coaching and developing people, and I get so much fulfillment out of that.” He brings this passion for leading to a packed life outside the office, too: My’chal mentors youth at his church, runs a nonprofit and is an active member of his local NAACP and International Youth Organization chapters. If that weren’t enough to keep him busy, the Linden resident is also a musician—he plays the organ, drums and piano—and is planning to study project management at Rutgers Business School and become a court-appointed advocate for foster children in Newark.
Rather than tucking this side of himself and his community activities away while at work, My’chal feels good about working at an organization that shares his values, with colleagues and leaders who are supportive of his endeavors. He's active in Audible’s Hire Local community initiative, helping to identify and cultivate local job seekers. With many connections in the Newark community, My’Chal says, “you hear the excitement that we’re offering folks in Newark the ability to work here, it really impacts the community’s perception [of Audible].” He also remembers how the organization provided for our internal community, banding together during Hurricane Sandy to make sure employees had food and resources. “The fact that Audible gives back to the community in so many ways is one of the main reasons I’m here. I love it here, and the people I work with are family to me.”
In fact, My’chal says it was Audible that inspired him to take the leap and officially establish his nonprofit, B2M. Noticing a lack of positive male role models in the lives of the young men he met through various volunteer projects, he dreamed of creating a program to provide boys of all ages with mentorship and support. Volunteering on behalf of Audible’s Project Listen Up, which provided Newark public high school students and their teachers with a free year of Audible membership, a bundle of 160+ educator-selected audiobooks, a set of headphones and an Amazon Fire tablet, lit a spark in him. “That’s what got me wanting to do more, going to various schools and talking to the kids,” he says.
He formally founded B2M, or Boys 2 Men, in April 2018. Working in three Plainfield, New Jersey, schools once a week and holding bimonthly events in Newark, My’chal and nine other volunteers work with around 100 boys and young men. Talking with parents and schools to address each mentee’s needs, B2M creates a trusted space to talk, teaches career development skills and organizes volunteer activities for the participants. Though the boys range in age from 5 to 17, My’chal says, “they deal with adult issues,” from mental health to homelessness and hunger. “We meet them at their level.”
With all his commitments, My’chal admits he has little downtime. But, he says, “you will find time to do what you want,” and he encourages his Audible colleagues to do the same, whether that’s embodying Audible’s Activate Caring people principle at work or outside the office. “People sometimes think you have to do a whole lot, but all you have to do is plant the seed. If people see you planting the seed, they’ll be willing to help!”