More than a decade into my match with Jeremiah and there are still rewards every time we see each other.
Most recently I called Jeremiah, who is now 17, about going to an RC helicopter flying competition — something I figured he would find pretty fun. To my surprise, he responded back that he needed help with his homework instead.
So happily I picked up some Chinese food and drove out to his house. After catching up over dinner, we dug into his research paper. While it’s always fulfilling to give him a hand when he asks, it’s even better when we can connect beyond the academic. After about two hours of hard work, Jeremiah said he needed my advice. We spent the next hour focusing not on schoolwork but focusing instead on life.
These are the most rewarding moments I have as a Big Brother. When Jeremiah comes to me for advice, I know the program is working. This is what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about: Being there.
I had never really considered anything like Big Brothers Big Sisters before the organization approached me about being a mentor in 2004. But it was an instantaneous fit for me. Still, I had no idea I would still be a part of the program a decade later. Jeremiah was only 6 when we were matched and I had only planned to be involved for about two or three years. I figured that would give me enough time to make a small difference in Jeremiah’s life.
Well, 10 years and five months later, Jeremiah is still a part of my life. I can only hope I’m still making a difference in his.
Life can get busy sometimes. I work three jobs and chair the local satellite committee for Big Brothers Big Sisters in St. George. I also recently got engaged, so much of my free time is spent in wedding planning and helping my fiancée move her life from Arizona to Utah. It’s not always easy to find time to meet up with Jeremiah, who lives 20 minutes away from me, especially as I travel out of state once or twice a month.
A decade in, though, our match is now second-nature. Making time for Jeremiah is not something out of my routine. It’s part of my life. Visiting Jeremiah is not something I do for Big Brothers Big Sisters anymore. It’s something I do because he’s part of my life.
And when Jeremiah graduates from high school in May 2016 he will also graduate from the program. We will no longer be an official match within Big Brothers Big Sisters. But that doesn’t mean our relationship will end. By that time we will have been matched for 11 and a half years — more than half his life and more than a quarter of mine. Though our match will not be organized through the program, our relationship will continue. I will still be there for him and he will be there for me.
Being there. That’s what it’s all about.
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