A Mother’s Perspective: This Chapter and The Next
Every year around this time we celebrate mentoring by honoring matches as they transition from our program to officially becoming Alumni at Match Graduation. For many matches, they’ve been together for years. This isn’t the end of their story, but more so the end of a chapter with many entering new and exciting stages in their lives.
This year, we had one of our fellow Family Council Members, Maria, her son Kevin, and his Big Brother Marc graduating. After 6 years in the program Maria took some time to reflect on their journey with BBBSMB that started when Kevin was just 12 years old. Enjoy!
How did you first hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters?
I first heard about the program through one of Kevin’s friends who had a Big Brother while Kevin was attending the Boston Renaissance Charter School in Boston. Kevin was very interested and eager to get a Big too so that he could meet with him at lunch at school and hang out with on the weekends. Because we moved a few times, it took longer to get into the program. I’m a single parent and Kevin is the only child so it seemed like the right thing to do, for him to have not only have a mentor but also a friend.
Was he excited to get a Big Brother?
Yes, he was very excited! When Kevin and Marc first met, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out – 1) because they were both quiet and shy and 2) I wasn’t sure Marc was going to challenge Kevin to try new things and maintain their outings fun and exciting. But somehow it worked out; On their own time, together they figured it out what worked and didn’t work, what Kevin likes and dislike and when from there.
How would you describe his relationship with Marc?
Kevin and Marc have a really good relationship. As an only child, Kevin is very attached to home—where he’s most comfortable. However, Kevin appreciates the time that Marc put in and efforts he made to drive an hour to/from his home to come and spend a few hours with him on the weekends and sometimes on weekdays after work.
When did you know that Marc was making a difference in your son’s life?
It was good for Kevin to see the hard work Marc put into finishing college and going into Grad school to get his Masters. That was a great thing for Kevin to witness firsthand and was very impactful.
How did Kevin and Marc’s relationship change throughout the years?
Kevin and Marc started out as two strangers, both shy and quiet to being very good friends over the years. At first, Marc would reach out to me to come up with ideas of things to do during their outings. I suggested that he did some research on his own then offers Kevin a couple of options and go from there. I did this to help them communicate better with each other rather than me being the middle person. Slowly but surely, Marc gained more confidence, became more comfortable and with the guidance from BBBS staff, he started to plan things out ahead of time, communicating more with Kevin during their outings and sometimes even discussed the next outing and what they would do next. It was great to see.
What would you say to parents questioning whether or not they should enroll their children in our program?
I would highly recommend the program. My son and I have only great things to say about the program, staff, Big, and the overall experience. Yes, it’s a bit scary in the beginning, meeting a new person, not knowing how if it’s going to work and all. But give it a chance because most likely it will change your son’s life like I’ve heard from so many other parents and my own experience. As parents you have the BBBS support to answer any questions/concerns that you may have. I truly believe that “It takes a village to raise a child”.
How and why did you become involved with our Family Council?
BBBS reached out and asked if I would be interested in joining the Family Council. Because of me and my son’s experience, I thought it would be great to join and share our stories with other families, and how wonderful the program and the Big have been to us. I wanted to be a resource to other families, a voice if needed and to let them know that I also went through whatever they might be going through – trust, the feeling of the unknown, fear, etc.– but that with time it all works out for the best. The Family Council group has done a number of “Lunch and Learns”, we attend the annual Summer Picnic, etc., We also created a Facebook page where we can answer any questions that new families may have and be a resource to them when needed.
Maria hopes to remain an active member of the Family Council, providing additional support to new parents as they start to navigate the program with their children. Kevin has just graduated high school and will be continuing his studies at UMass Boston in the fall. Kevin and Marc look forward to continuing their friendship for many more years to come.