Graduation Highlight: Meet JR and Josh!
As graduation season has come and gone, we have been able to read some beautiful stories of how people have taken advantage of more time with family and friends amidst a pandemic. COVID-19 has created quite the interruption in the lives of so many graduating seniors and they deserve to be celebrated now more than ever. We are pleased to highlight a BBBSEM match that involves one of our own employees. Meet JR, who is the Regional Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands (BBBSCCI), and his Little, Josh!
JR and Josh have been matched for almost 6 years – a match that has proved to be extremely rewarding for the both of them. Josh has spent the past 4 years in the Marine Services Program at Cape Cod Regional Tech High School, and graduated on June 4, 2020. He recently completed a co-op program at Shamrock Boat Works in New Seabury, MA, where he now works.
JR and Josh have shared so many memories involving fishing and boating adventures. “My favorite memories with JR revolve around his boat. We have spent countless hours over the years working on the engines, going fishing, heading over to Martha’s Vineyard for dinner, or just cruising around talking,” says Josh. JR also reminisced about some of their time together and has an awesome fishing story to share! “I remember reading the 3 things Josh wanted most in life from his BBBS enrollment sheet: money, being able to fly, and someone to take me fishing. For those who know me, I could spend every day during the summer on my boat fishing. One of our first 3 outings was fishing out in Vineyard Sound. Josh was so excited the day I picked him up that he was almost bouncing in the truck on the ride to the boat. We got the lines off and headed out, Josh asked a million questions about the boat, where we were headed, how I knew what to do, what everything was, what we’d catch etc. The first 3 places we hit were a total bust, not even a hit, but the smile never left Josh’s face as we trolled along the rips. Just as we were about to pack it in and head back Josh’s rod bent over and his reel screeched as the line spooled out, followed by a whole bunch of, “I GOT ONE’s” from an excited 12 year old. A few minutes later Josh had landed a good looking bluefish that never made it into the boat thanks to a big wave and a novice fisherman, in the long run it was probably better. To this day when I get a “Fishing after work?” text from a now nearly 19 year old I sometimes flash back to our first fishing trip 6 years ago.”
Reflecting on his high school experience, Josh recounted some advice JR was able to provide to him. “JR encouraged me to try my best to get my work done and keep out of trouble. He was always a phone call away to talk with me when I was frustrated with school. We talked almost every day after school.”
JR and Josh are an incredible example of a BBBS success story. JR has not only supported Josh through the years, but he has been able to create a sense of comfort between them. Talking once a week on the phone can have a huge impact on a child’s life, never mind almost every day.
Though the celebrations have taken a different turn compared to previous years, they may have been better this way. Communities gathered, teachers rose above, and seniors across the country have been celebrated. Josh’s high school had a “drive-in graduation” at the Wellfleet Drive-In. The celebrations did not end there! Josh’s family “had a social distancing BBQ in [his] grandmothers’ backyard and JR came and surprised [him].” Graduation is just one milestone that is a developing point in a person’s life, and with JR and his family around, it is one that Josh certainly will not forget. He has a bright future ahead of him, with plans to work full time at a Marina. Here is some advice Josh has to give to graduating seniors, or those approaching this exciting milestone:
“Find the things that you love to do or that you are good at and figure out how to turn those into a career and you will always be happy and fulfilled. I also would say that it is okay to not know what those things are right away, you have your whole life to figure it out.”
This has been a year that few could have imagined, but one that has strengthened relationships and expanded support systems. The goal of Big Brothers Big Sisters matches is to provide under-resourced children with professionally supported one-to-one mentoring – mentoring that aims to provide children with the resources and support necessary for success. It is very clear that JR has provided his Little this support system. Beyond graduation, the two are excited to stay in touch and support each other through other exciting milestones!
JR offers some incredible advice for those who are considering becoming a Big:
“Do it and don’t overthink it. Be consistent, show up, communicate openly, and focus on the everyday things. When I was first matched with Josh and asked him what he wanted to do on our next outing he told me, “I don’t care what we do, as long as we get to hangout that’s all I care about.” You don’t need to be a superhero or plan extravagant outings, just be you and be open to meeting a kid where they are at. I was matched with Josh well before I worked for BBBS and to this day I consider it one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.”
Congratulations on your graduation, Josh! We are so proud of you!
For more information on becoming a mentor Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, please visit www.emassbigs.org.