|VENICE, FL (January 24, 2014) – Longstanding studies show long-term, one-to-one, staff- supported volunteer mentoring works. As we mark National Mentoring Month this January, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast is honoring all who make up their successful community –parents, volunteers, staffers and donors who work together to make a mentoring match strong, enduring and successful.
This month, we thank our parents and guardians for their trust and commitment to their children. We pay tribute to our staff, and we show gratitude to our donors and honor our volunteers for their service. It is with great pleasure I share with you a note written by one of our Big Brothers named Wes Harlan about his journey and how he has come “full circle.”
“When I was a 9 year old boy growing up without a father, my mother signed me up and I was matched to a big that was a high school football coach. Though I had no interest in football, my big gave me the cool job of running out on the field during games to give the referee a new football when needed. I never remember if he told me any words of wisdom, because he wasn’t really much of a talker, and I don’t think he had any clue how to deal with a kid as crazy as I was. The fact is that he was there, willing to give his time to some child he’d never met and to hopefully give that child insight on a different way of life. We lost contact after a couple of years but when I grew older and had a child of my own I recognized the impact of his choice to be a big. His choice made me think about giving back to my community and the children that needed positive, vibrant leadership. So I coached my daughter’s soccer team for 5 years. Besides trying to teach a bunch of hand holding, little flower picking during a soccer match girls to play soccer, I didn’t feel I was doing enough. I loved our community and my daughter’s friends but I didn’t have enough one-on-one interaction and I felt the need to impact a child on a much more personal level. With a hectic life and schedule my friends and family were skeptical, but I signed up to be a big 6 months ago. I wasn’t really nervous about being matched at first but then I met the little guy. The commitment hit home and while feeling rewarded, I realized I was accepting this little man into my family. It only took me a day or two to realize that my little blonde kid wearing glasses was ME to the ”T” when I needed strength in my life so many years ago. It hasn’t been easy, and the things I want to teach this kid about life have kept me up at night. My little has a hard time listening most of the times, he’s usually jabbering about all the cool stuff he sees in the world, tall tales, and informing me how I could be more fun after I tell him his grades need improving haha! I listen, I get a word in about the ways of the world and good choices every once in a while and I hope he hears me. The fact is I’m there, I was led here and it was meant to be. Though the experience of what you’d think becoming a mentor, big and little totally connecting watching football (shopping and toenail painting for the girls, as I’ve done this living as a single dad with my daughter) and building bird houses and all isn’t always the case. These kids are on their own path, with their own little brains, and they can teach you the same or more about things. One thing is for sure, I am there to mentor, to listen, and to give a view of the world that is positive and fill a very important void he might have. I will try to teach the lessons I’ve learned, the lessons I’ve learned the hard way and love.”
To become a “Big” or for further information, contact Gina Taylor at 941-488-4009 or firstname.lastname@example.org