Brandon remembers looking out at the skyline from his childhood bedroom window.
“I could see the epic view of Nissan Stadium with the skyline behind it. I grew up on South Sixth Street and Shelby Avenue and did not have a lot. Growing up in public housing can be difficult.”
Now, as an adult, his view has changed but that childhood experience has stayed with him and helped lead him down the path to a career of service.
“Being a kid from humble beginnings, I just always wanted to make my world and the people around me better.”
After high school, Brandon’s youth pastor asked him to come work at Martha O’Bryan Center, a United Way partner agency that serves Cayce Homes where Brandon grew up. So he signed on overseeing the recreation room.
“When I got there, I just naturally understood the issues that people deal with living in poverty and trying to make a better way. I was immediately hooked, and I’ve done nothing else ever since. That’s one of the big challenges in community work: You need people with lived experiences who actually know what it takes. There are lots of amazing people who do incredible work all over the place. But it’s great when you can have a good representation of all the people in the community and being that I was from that community, it really gave me kind of a unique viewpoint of the way we need to make things happen. I think that all the people that I got to work with over the years really appreciate that now in Nashville—about how we have to have the entire community activated to make things better. You can’t just have people from one particular industry or one particular side of the track. And that’s really been what’s fueled me—just trying to use my experience to help people who were coming up in the same conditions that I did.”
That fuel eventually led Brandon to his current position at Nashville Soccer Club, where his role is to find creative ways to make an impact in the community. He works with nonprofits, schools, community groups, churches—anyone who’s a part of the work to make Nashville better. One aspect of that work is managing the strong partnership between Nashville Soccer Club and United Way.
“I don’t know where we’d be as a city without the leadership and the impact that United Way makes.”
Through that partnership, Nashville SC has been working hand-in-hand with United Way and the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success to launch Books Brothers, which brings men of color to the classroom as reading role models through pre-recorded videos. Volunteers read a wide range of age-appropriate texts for kindergarten through third graders, including books that allow students of color to see themselves in the pages.
“We’ve had a lot of success having our players be involved in that campaign, and we really think it’s making a difference. And that’s just one of the ways that we want to utilize our players and our game to make a difference.”
And just one small way that Brandon is making a difference—for his old neighborhood and beyond.