Meet Our Big of the Year
This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay nominated Big Brother Clint Ficula for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Big of the Year Award. This award celebrates the spirit of volunteerism and recognizes remarkable community leaders who help brighten the lives of children and build stronger, more vibrant communities across the U.S. The bond that Clint has with his Little Brother Joel made him an ideal candidate, and we wanted to share their incredible match story with you.
Clint was matched with his Little Brother Joel over eight years ago. At the time, Joel was a shy, reserved, and quiet boy who was described by his mother as a “homebody.” It wasn’t until Clint came into Joel’s life that this personality started to change.
As their bond grew, so did Joel’s trust in Clint. One day, Clint decided to take Joel surfing—one of Clint’s favorite summertime activities. There was only one problem: Joel couldn’t swim. Knowing Joel wasn’t keen on the idea of jumping into the deep blue unknown, Clint was ready to give him the literal push he needed. With Clint’s encouraging hand, Joel faced his fears and jumped right into a wave. After some screaming and splashing around, Clint told him that he was safe because they were standing on a sandbar. “I reassured him that he was completely safe and encouraged him to stand. After that moment, Joel’s confidence made him unstoppable as he caught wave after wave that day,” Clint said.
As time passed and Joel spent more time with Clint, Joel’s confidence in himself extended beyond just the beach into other areas of his life too, including his education. When it came to school, Clint first opened Joel’s eyes to the possibility of a career outside of professional basketball and helped him land on a career more fitting for him: Sports Journalism. According to their Match Support Specialist, Sheena McClain, Clint has been instrumental in helping Joel traverse the next step in his education. “Clint has empowered Joel to contact the University of Texas by phone to discuss the admissions process,” McClain said. Clint deeply cares about Joel’s future, and when Joel looked into switching schools and repeating his junior year so that he could get better grades, Clint was his number one supporter. “Through the whole process, I have been with Joel all along the way, driving him to boarding schools, helping him with financial aid forms, and revising essay drafts,” Clint said.
“Without Big Brothers, I know I would have never developed the level of empathy and commitment that I possess today.”
The bond Clint and Joel share has enriched both of their lives. Clint knows his relationship with Joel has helped change his life for the better, but Joel feels like he is the one whose life has been changed. “Clint helped me find myself, has opened doors for me that I didn’t know were there, and has showed me that there is more to life than this,” Joel said as he pointed at his apartments and surroundings.
Clint came into Joel’s life at an important time in his development, and was able to successfully facilitate his growth by constantly pushing him out of his comfort zone and being there when it mattered the most. Their experience altered both of their lives for the better, giving them memories they will always cherish and lessons they will never forget.
Interested in making a positive impact on a child? Take the first step here.