Twice as Nice: Making a Difference Together
After seeing the important role one of their friends played in her Little’s life and development, husband and wife, Kent and Micki, felt inspired to become Bigs themselves.
“Our friend has been matched with her Little since he was in elementary school, and now he has just graduated from high school,” Micki said. “She made a real difference and was a great resource for her Little and his family throughout the course of their relationship. While we can’t change the world, we wanted to do something meaningful and of real impact. Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters was a clear way to do that.”
In considering becoming a mentor, it’s easy to focus on making a difference for Littles. Our Bigs are quick to point out however, that they experience just as many benefits from their matches as their mentees do, because seeing the world through the eyes of a child can open a whole new world for adults.
In addition to volunteering individually, Bigs can also sign up to volunteer with their partners as Partner Matches or Big Couples, thereby increasing the impact for all involved!
“A lot of people interested in becoming mentors may not know that they have the option to partner up with another mentor in a Couple/Partner Match,” said Joe Strychalski, BBBS Vice President of Programs. “This can be a great option for Bigs who may be uncertain or nervous about committing to a match individually or who just want to team up to mentor one child. Big Couples/Partners can spend time together with their Little, or go on one-to-one outings too. It’s a great opportunity for two Bigs to team up to have an incredible impact on a young person.”
“When Kent and I reached out to BBBS, I learned that the combination of Bigs in demand vs Littles available did not favor women being matched quickly,” Micki said. “And my husband was facing some time constraints due to his workload. But, as a Big Couple, we can share this great experience and really go the distance for our Little.”
Kent and Micki have been matched with their Little Brother, Lorenzo, for a little over three months now. In that time, the three have played baseball, visited the Austin Aquarium, played life-size chess at the Austin Public Library, gone swimming, ridden bikes, hiked, and shared a picnic.
They said they can’t come up with enough positive words to describe the experience so far.
“We absolutely love being Lorenzo’s Bigs,” Kent said.
“It’s been fun and rewarding!” Micki agreed. “Doing things with him that he might not otherwise have been able to do is so special. Our desire to share knowledge and experiences with Lorenzo has prompted us to learn and seek out new opportunities, too. I picked up a few books on swimming, so I could help Lorenzo learn to swim and be water safe. And after we played chess, we ordered a book called ‘Chess for Kids.’ We are all learning together.”
One of the first match events the three attended earlier this year was Hobie Day, BBBS’ annual sailing event.
Micki and Kent both have extensive sailing experience and have windsurfed for many years. On the way to the event, the couple learned that Lorenzo had never been on a boat or to a lake.
“When we got there, Lorenzo was somewhat scared of the water and of getting on the boat,” Micki said. “So, we guided him along the water and onto a sailboat. The boating staff gave him a warm welcome, and he went from being fearful, to excited, about sailing. Lorenzo was amazing, and we were so proud of him for being brave and mature. The trust and confidence Lorenzo had in us was humbling and made us feel so connected to him. His favorite part of the day was jumping off a dock in his life jacket to Kent. I lost count of how many times he jumped into the lake! Seeing his comfort and confidence grow was so rewarding.”
BBBS strives to provide matches with opportunities to enjoy new experiences and to create lasting memories together, which is something that Micki and Kent appreciate.
“We both really want to try to protect, share, and enrich Lorenzo’s experiences and life,” Micki said. “Lorenzo is such a wonderful kid, and we can’t wait to be part of his life as he grows from a 9-year-old to a young man. He is just such a pleasure to spend time with and that quality time is important to us. Lorenzo even gifted me a beautiful Christmas ornament. It is perfect and will be a treasured addition to my collection. I can’t wait to put it on our tree this year and every year in the future!”
In addition to their time with Lorenzo, Micki and Kent have enjoyed building a relationship with Lorenzo’s family as well.
“His family is important to us, too,” Micki added. “I appreciate and value the relationship I have with his mother, the interactions with his father, and his siblings. My experiences as an adult have been limited due to working in the high-tech industry, and Kent and I do not have children. Seeing Noemi, Lorenzo’s mom, juggle the demands of her family and cope with the challenges they face has been an eye-opening experience. Their life is not easy, but the love and dedication she has for her children is immeasurable and admirable. I do not know how she does it, but she makes it happen! I don’t think it is possible to put into words the love we feel for Lorenzo and his siblings and parents. We feel so fortunate to share our lives with him and his family.”
Micki’s and Kent’s shared experience as mentors, and their relationships with Lorenzo and his family, are creating new opportunities, discoveries and growth for them all. That’s the power of mentoring.
Their lives are, truly, bigger together.