By Adam Haynes, Big Brother
“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could”. As a Big Brother, this quote rings true. In 2017 I made the decision to become a Big after resisting for over a year. I had the same reservations that everyone else does at first – “I don’t have the time”, “I won’t relate to some kid”, “How will I make a difference?”. All of these fears were quickly put to rest.
“I don’t have the time”
When I was matched with my fantastic Little Brother, Devin, in March 2017, this fear was quickly put to rest. I had heard before I became a Big that after awhile this won’t really feel like “volunteering”. That it can become a really important relationship in your life. I didn’t believe it. But, I can say without a doubt that it is true. I don’t consider myself a “volunteer” with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Rather, Big Brothers Big Sisters has provided me a great opportunity to be in Devin’s life and to have a great lifelong relationship with him. It has provided Devin the same opportunity.
“I won’t relate to some kid”
Like all Littles and Bigs in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, Devin and I were matched based on our personalities and interests. The effort that went into matching us made a huge difference – our relationship grew very strong, very quickly. Because of our similar interests it has never been a problem finding time to do the outdoor activities that we both enjoy, such as going to the lake, playing baseball, and more! This also helps with the time “problem”. Many of these activities I would be doing anyway – but now they are made even better by doing them with Devin.
“I won’t make a difference”
Shortly before I became a Big, I came to the realization that throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to have others invest in me and I knew that many youth in our community were craving the same opportunity. Devin and I have done a number of really fun activities, but that is not what is really important. What is important is the relationship that we have developed. What is important are the little things:
I show up when I say I am going to.
I don’t cancel plans.
We do what I told him we would do.
He knows I care.
Our relationship gives him a needed source of consistency and care in his life, which might not have been there before.
Just this month, Devin moved out of state. Although this was tough for both of us, I know our relationship will live on. This move has given me the chance to reflect on this experience. I hoped to have an impact on a child in need through this program. That happened. What I did not expect is the incredible experience I have received. Devin and so many youth in need of a mentor have many unfair obstacles placed in their way that they have no control over. Seeing youth grow through this adversity, with a trusted mentor by their side, is truly satisfying. Devin has taught me a lot about what it means to be courageous and resilient. I have told Devin how much I look up to and admire him. I have truly discovered that mentoring is a two way street. Big Brothers Big Sisters not only changes the lives of Littles; it changes the lives of Bigs as well.