“You Can Be Successful in Anything You Want”
“You Can Be Successful in Anything You Want”
A Little Brother from the 1980s Reaches Out in Search of Big Brother
BOSTON, MA – Anthony A. Crutchfield III, author of “A Better Life” and a previous Little, reached out to BBBSEM to connect with his Big Brother, Woodie, and thank him for the positive influence he made on Anthony’s life. Read all about Anthony’s story and our interview with him below.
Q: Can you elaborate on what your life was like when you and your Big were matched? Who thought it would be a good idea for you to have a Big and why?
A: “So I have an older brother, he’s three years older than I am. But being a teenager, my brother wanted to hang out with his friends and didn’t want his kid brother with him, that kind of thing… At the time, if I am remembering correctly, the Teddy Ruxpin doll was a pretty popular doll – a teddy bear and you put a little tape recorder in its back and it talks to you. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was quiet, I was a loner. My mother thought I should have someone to hang out with so she contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters Association and got me a Big Brother. It was her idea and I remember hanging out with my Big brother several times. Unfortunately, we lost contact when we moved, but it was a good experience for me.”
Q: Did you feel comfortable talking to your Big about things you were going through, or was that your space to get away and do something else?
A: “It was my space to get away. I thought that all kids were going through the things I was going through. I knew I had some friends that had a more stable family, but I thought most kids were going through the stuff I was going through and just never brought it up.”
Q: What were some of your first impressions of Woodie? Do you remember some of your favorite outings?
A: “So, I’m a small person. I’m 5’6” now, I like to think I’m average. But Woodie was a large guy. He was large in height and physically just a large guy. I recall him being an attorney, although my mother said she thought he was going to law school. He lived less than a mile from where we lived, and I recall him taking me to his house on several occasions. I remember speaking to his mother and hanging out at the house, just hanging out not really doing anything which was perfectly fine with me. There were times when he took me to play tennis. He actually got me involved in a computer program in Grove Hall, where instead of going home after school I would go there and learn about computers. Woodie was great for me – he got me out of what I really didn’t need to be around and got me around more positive things, and I appreciate that.”
Q: How did Woodie help forge a path to success for you? At what point did you realize he had made a positive impact on your life?
A: “Sometimes with people in the inner city, they feel like their future is written in stone and unable to be changed. The fact that someone else from the inner city, living less than a mile from my house, was able to go through school to become an attorney kind of said to me that I can probably do anything I wanted to do. That’s the message I think we need to give to our young adults in the inner city – if you put in the work, you can do anything you want to. With Woodie putting me in that computer class, if you will, it helped me see that other things were possible. I didn’t realize any of that until I was much older, to be honest with you. I don’t know how much I got from [Woodie], or if some of that was from my aunt or my mother’s boyfriends. I think there were a number of people that got together and saw that I was a decent kid and wanted to push me forward and keep me in the right direction. Woodie was definitely a part of that.”
Q: Why do you believe the BBBS mission is so important?
A: “I feel like most kids don’t think they are able to succeed. I am in law enforcement, I have been since I was about 23 years old. When I first got into law enforcement, I worked in the housing developments in and around the city of Boston. A lot of the time we saw young mothers with young children living in the low income housing developments. Children out by themselves, 8 or 9 o’clock at night, no supervision. A lot of these kids just don’t feel like they can do anything more than what their parents are doing. You know ‘My father was a drug dealer. My mother was a drug dealer. My grandparents were drug dealers. You know what I’m going to be? A drug dealer.’ In reference to the book, I go around and give talks to youth groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic schools, basketball teams, and my message to them is simply that it doesn’t matter what your friends and family are doing before you. You are in complete control of your destiny – if you put the work in, odds are you can be successful in anything you want. There are no guarantees in life; however, if you want to gamble on something, gamble on doing the right thing and odds are you’ll find success in your life. I think that’s the message we need to give to all of our kids and I think Big Brothers Big Sisters does that very well. You don’t need to be a lawyer to help out a child, you can be any good human being to guide a younger person and I think that’s something the association does very well.”
Q: Can you elaborate on where you are in terms of law enforcement and your life now?
A: “I am the Senior Firearms Instructor in Homeland Security for New England. My job is to control, track, and monitor every firearm, bullet, taser, bulletproof vest, badge, credentials and all firearms training throughout New England. I have more than a dozen firearms instructors in CT, RI, VT, NH that answer to me, but I am the head of that program. I am seen as the ‘Use of Force Expert’ for New England and all I do is gun stuff for the most part. In my private time I also teach the Basic Firearm Safety course. I am actually in the process of giving a course free of charge to mothers in [a local] housing authority so they can learn how to defend themselves, if they absolutely have to, with a firearm.”
Q: If a struggling child came to you for one piece of advice, what would you say?
A: “I would tell them that their success or failure is in their own hands, and they have to take responsibility for that. Bad things are going to happen and you’re going to have some failures on your road to success – don’t let those failures deter you from your path. Be a good person, treat everyone as you would like them to treat you in return. I’ve gotten as far as I’ve gotten in life because I’m a good person, I work hard, and I treat people how I would like them to treat me. Nobody promised you life would be easy. Nobody suggested that life would be easy. But regardless of how hard life is, if you stay focused on your path and put the work in, odds are you are going to find success.”
Q: Why reach out to BBBSEM now? Was there something that reminded you of your Big, or did you want to thank them for something?
A: “That’s exactly what it was, I wanted to find and thank [Woodie]. I wanted to thank him for everything he did for me in that time of my life. I was going through things that he didn’t have any idea about – he had no idea what my history was. He had no idea what his presence meant in my life. I wanted to share that with him and let him know that partially because of him, I am now a success. So I want to thank him and say you know, your work wasn’t for nothing, and I’m the result of that.”
Final Thought: “I think people in the inner city, especially young adults, need positive role models. We need people that will step in and keep these children pointed in the right direction. In organizations like [Big Brothers Big Sisters], having someone that will step in means the world to these children. It can make all the difference. Sometimes kids don’t even realize the difference these Bigs can make, but we know. I think [Big Brothers Big Sisters] is extremely important. I appreciate the work you all did for my life and I will do anything I can to help the organization and their mission. I want some of these children to know some of the things I went through in life. Maybe they can say that they have gone through something similar, and they can make it too. I have reading dyslexia and read at an 8th grade level, but I am a federal agent. Not only am I a federal agent, I am the Senior Firearms Instructor for all of New England. Regardless of what you have going on, you can make it. Each and every one of you.”
To learn more about Anthony Crutchfield’s story, check out his book, A Better Life.
For more information on becoming a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit emassbigs.org.