February 12, 2010

It's Just Showing Up for A Boy

Per your requests, this post is from one of you . . . it's Alan's story about the "call" to serve boys that he heard and how it all unfolded. We can learn a lot from each other in this work. If you have a similar story, we'd all like to hear it.

My name is Alan and I'm from Boston, MA. My story began 4 years ago. I’m a man that works full time and has a fairly busy lifestyle, but for a long time I felt a need inside of me to "give back' to the community. Living day to day, I was feeling self-centered and I was looking for ways that I could volunteer and be a part of something that had some meaning. As a Dad, with my own son an adult now, I thought back to all the fun times my son and I shared when he was younger, the trips to the beach, playing catch, hanging out, biking, youth sports, and basically doing "fun" things. I thought that doing those things again would not only benefit a kid, but be fun for me also.

It was about that same time that a coworker of mine had been a Big in the past and had mentioned Big Brother Big Sisters. I did have the thought, "what will people think" because of my interest in a boy?  I don't know if that's what held me back from acting for so long, but it contributed to it. But I also kept thinking about the 60 boys on the waiting list at the local Big Brothers organization and how I wanted to be involved. As the idea worked on me I started realizing all the times that I could be spending with a kid instead of just hanging around. I thought about it for a long time, and after about a year, I finally made the decision to contact the local office and fill out an application.

After receiving a call from Big Brothers, I went for an interview. We discussed my interests, what type of boy I was interested in, and a "matching" of interests. Since Big Brother does all types of background checks, I waited. After about 30 days I was approved and the match process began.
 
Within two weeks I was told about a boy that has been waiting for one year for a Big. He seemed fine to me and we decided to meet at the BBBS office. His name was Nick and he was nine years old. Being torn between living with his Mom and his Dad, there was void in his life for a positive role model, stability and a non-authoritarian person. I think Nick and I hit it off right away. I was a bit nervous worry about what we were going to do together, and began forming elaborate plans for our time together. Ball games, amusement parks, etc. When I began meeting up with Nick, once a week, I realized that all he really wanted to do was to spend time with me. It wasn't about what we did, but about the time we spent together, on a regular basis. Just having me show up and spend time with him was all he really wanted.

It’s now been 3 years, Nick is 12, we are still friends and still see each other on a regular basis. An environment of trust, openness, and caring is what Nick needed, and what I needed too. He knows that he can talk to me about anything without "getting in trouble" or "being judged." We chat on the phone, meet up about twice a month and feel totally comfortable with each other. We now have a bond, a trust, a relationship that may just last forever.

All my fears and hesitancy very quickly turned to absolute joy. I love spending time with him, listening to him, sharing stories and learning about him. Just talking and sharing events of the day, helping with his schoolwork, and doing what he likes and wants to do is great for both of us. My only regret was that I waited a year to finally decide to do this. Today I receive compliments from family and coworkers on "how great" it is that I do this. Being a Big Brother for Nick makes me feel like I'm doing something positive, not only for him, but for myself.

I’ve learned that volunteering and being a part of a boy’s life is very rewarding. You don't need to be a certain type of individual, you don't need a college degree, just a willingness to spend a couple of hours a week with a boy. That is all. Do that and you'll make all the difference in his life, and in yours.

1 comment:

  1. Alan,

    Thanks for your story. It got me excited. I'll be a mentor to a foster teen—or two—in a matter or weeks. My kids are also out of the house. I can't wait to put those old dad skills back to use. There are so many kids desperate for the companionship of an adult who cares about them, and isn't paid to care. The vetting process can be arduous, especially when the teens are wards of the state. But as you've confirmed, the impact is tremendous for all.

    Wayne

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