I don’t know why I chose the Big Brothers Big Sisters program
, or even how it occurred to me in the first place. I was under the impression that this wasn't simply a volunteer opportunity, but a lifelong commitment; a rewarding way to see my efforts make a difference.
At the end of my first interview with the case manager at BBBS, she looked at me and said she had the perfect match for me. She smiled at another employee right outside her office and said “Ricky.” The employee smiled back, clearly knowing more than I did, and nodded emphatically.
I got to meet Ricky and his grandmother a couple weeks later, and it became evident why the enthusiasm about our match. We looked very much alike with the same complexion, dark eyes, and curly long hair. We shared very similar subdued attitudes and quiet voices.
I quickly found out that “Big Brother” isn’t the only familial title you receive once joining the program, but you also become a son, a nephew, and a grandson all at once. Ricky’s family embraced me as one of their own, and it was clear there were plenty of people in his life who cared for him immensely. Me coming along just added one more person to care for him, which never hurts, but it also gave him a male role model, which had been absent most of his life.
We’ve been out to eat, played basketball and video games, gone to Marshall basketball games, and hit the driving range, but there have always been plenty of times with serious discussions, homework tutoring, and mediation sessions. Not every day is a step forward, but that's not uncommon when dealing with a teenager. It’s those challenges that make the small victories shine.
I’ve seen Ricky grow taller, heard his voice deepen, witnessed his decision making get better, appreciated more and more of his maturity kick in, and watched how his understanding of the world has flourished. It is this growth that makes the experience rewarding, and it’s clear to me now that becoming a Big Brother is an act that benefits and changes the lives of both people in the match.
Director of Resource Development, United Way of the River CitiesInterested in learning more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister? Register now or contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State Area at 304.522.2191.