Match Celebration: David and Carlos, 20 Years and Going Strong
20 Years of Fun, Caring, and Great Friendship
At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we plan for every match to last for at least a year, but the average length of a match is actually three years. However, matches occasionally end up benefiting both Bigs and Littles so much that they become friendships for a lifetime–in this case, 20 years!
Big Brothers Big Sisters matched Big Brother David and Little Brother Carlos 20 years ago in 1997, and they remain close today. Their story is a testament to the immensely positive impact that a strong mentorship has on both mentors and mentees. Read more about the story behind David and Carlos’ match below!
How did you first get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
David: I had a couple friends in college who were Big Brothers, and I saw how much of an impact they had on their Little Brothers. I had also wanted to become a Big, but I moved around a lot for a few years and didn’t feel it would be fair to do it until I was settled in one place. I ended up in Boston long-term and finally had the chance to become a Big Brother.
Describe the first time you met Carlos.
It was the night before the April Fool’s Day snowstorm of 1997. I had an appointment to meet the Big Brothers Big Sisters case worker at Carlos’ house in the evening. It was starting to snow, and I walked to his house not at all sure what to expect. The case worker introduced me to Carlos’ mother and his siblings and explained that Carlos was in his room because he was nervous about meeting me. After about 15 minutes, Carlos finally came out, and the case worker introduced us. Carlos was very shy and nervous, and we didn’t get a chance to talk much before he retreated to his room again. I walked back out into the snowstorm wondering what I had gotten myself into!
What was he like as a kid?
Carlos was pretty quiet and reserved whenever we got together. But talking to his Mom, I knew that he was not always quiet and reserved at home! Even after we had been getting together for over a year, I often felt I had to try really hard to keep a conversation going. But eventually he opened up, and once the floodgates were open, there was no closing them. He would talk for hours at a time about anything on his mind.
David and Carlos at their match meeting in 1997.
Carlos, what were some of your favorite outings as a kid?
As a kid, some of my fondest memories were going to the movies. We developed a tradition of getting Sour Patch kids, and every time I saw a new movie I would say “That was the best movie ever!” Especially any Adam Sandler movie. We joke about that all the time still. We also went to Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics games. Looking back, I probably would not have had the opportunity to go to these games without David and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Can you recall a time when David helped you through a tough situation?
The great part about David was the fact I always felt like he was on my side. No matter what situation I found myself in, he would not judge me or make me feel bad. He was there to help me deal with it and grow. One example was a time in which my mother and I got into a huge argument. I was feeling frustrated and sad, but knew I could turn to David. And that’s what I did. I went to his house, we talked, and he calmed me down. He then took me back to my house to talk it out with my mother and help resolve the situation. It felt really good to know I had someone in my corner whenever I needed them.
What impact has he had in your life?
Growing up as a triplet in a single parent household had its challenges for me, and David was always there as a father/big brother figure to help me through the tough times. He always made sure to spend time with me, take me out, ask about my life, help with my homework, and just be someone who I could always turn to for anything. He has always inspired me to keep fighting, and his influence has helped mold me into the person I am today. To this day I look up to him as someone with the qualities everyone should aspire to have.
David, how would you describe your relationship with Carlos and how did it develop over the years?
At first our relationship was really awkward. But gradually as Carlos got more comfortable talking to me and just being himself, we really started having some long conversations. Eventually, I felt that Carlos just became more like a member of my family, and he would often just come over to my house to hang out with me and my wife. I always liked to keep my house as a safe haven for him, where he could come to relax whenever he needed to get away from anything that was bothering him. My wife and I would be careful to just listen to him and not judge, and that helped him open up about things he was going through.
As Carlos went through high school, it became just part of the routine for him to be around whenever he wanted. This continued even after the official match ended after high school, and I came to think of Carlos more as a friend. He would still come to me for advice on things, but I also found myself asking for his advice on some things I was thinking about. I have kids in school now, and Carlos has been a part of their lives straight through; my kids have now spent so much time with him that I think they consider him their own Big Brother!
In what ways did your relationship with Carlos impact your life?
At this point I can’t imagine my life in Boston without Carlos. We were matched 20 years ago, and he has been a constant part of my life for those 20 years. He grew up in a very different family and home environment from the one I grew up in, and I learned a lot from him about resiliency and perseverance. I recently had the pleasure of going to watch him graduate from college, and seeing him cross the stage and get his degree brought tears to my eyes, thinking about how far he has come from the shy 11-year-old kid I met on a snowy evening in 1997.
David and Carlos stopped by our office as part of their 20 year match anniversary “outing”!
Carlos, do you have a greater appreciation for David’s presence as an adult?
I always think about how lucky I was to be matched with David. I often think how my life might have turned out if we had never met. I just graduated Bentley University this past May, and that would not have happened if I did not meet David. He gave me the confidence to go back to school after completing just one year at UMass Amherst when I first graduated high school. As I mentioned earlier, David inspired me to always keep fighting, and although it took me until my early 30s to do so, it feels great to finally be a college grad. That is just one of many examples I have reflected on as an adult, and I am forever thankful to David for coming into my life 20 years ago. I am truly lucky.
If you were a Big Brother, then what are some things you would want to instill in a Little Brother?
Carlos: After experiencing the effects of being involved in the Big Brother program for so many years, I would want to instill the same things that David instilled in me. I would want my Little Brother to learn to respect himself and others, to always do the right thing, to be honest, to be compassionate, and to be the best person he can be. Being a role model for a young boy who is in need would be of the most rewarding things I could think of.
What advice would you give to potential Bigs that are considering becoming mentors?
David: Do it! It will absolutely change your life. Go into it with an open mind, expect some frustrations and challenges along the way, but definitely do it. I never thought of it as just a one year commitment. I was committed to spending time with Carlos as long as he wanted or needed me to be around. And here 20 years later he hasn’t gotten sick of me yet!
David and Carlos’ 20 years of friendship is an incredibly inspiring story, and we hope that they stay close for years to come. Imagine the positive impact that you could have on a child as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters! If you’re thinking about applying to become a Big or if you just want to learn more, then don’t hesitate to check it out here.