Mentoring on the Cape: Meet Big Brother Manny
Big Brother Manny Marrero has been a Big to Little, Ronell, since last Spring. Manny tells us what motivated him to become a Big, how he makes the time, the impact his relationship with his Little has had on both of them, and advice for others looking to volunteer. Enjoy!
Let’s start from the beginning. When and how did you first get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters? I first became involved with BBBS in the spring of 2017. I stumbled across an article on the Cape Cod Times outlining the need for Bigs on Cape Cod. I was looking for different ways to volunteer at the time so I thought what better way to make a positive difference in a child’s life and in the process learn more about my community and myself.
What motivated you to become a Big? The one thing I can pinpoint that motivated me to become a Big was a positive interaction I had with a young adult mentor when I was 6 years old. It wasn’t through an organization, it was an informal after school program that provided structure and support to at risk youth. I still remember all the helpful things I learned from my mentor Jaime. His positive attitude and support helped me a great deal at the time and in my later years.
Describe the first time you met your Little. The first time I met Ronell, I arrived at his home in the afternoon on a Saturday and I immediately noticed he had a contagious, bright smile and positive demeanor about him. He asked me what kind of sports I played and I replied “all of them!” but mostly basketball, football, and baseball. We both had an instant connection with our love of sports and active lifestyles. I found our first meeting to be very positive and engaging.
How would you describe your relationship with your Little? Our relationship is fun, active, engaging, funny, laid back, and spontaneous. We often talk about initial plans to do an activity but those plans can change on the day of our meeting based on the weather, our mood, or just if we see something more intriguing on the way. I think the spontaneity we share keeps our relationship fun and not so rigid. For example I remember one weekend day we were in my car on our way to play basketball at an indoor gym in Hyannis but we decided last minute to take a trip to the local apple orchard and we picked some fresh apples and pumpkins. It ended up being a great fun filled day that we didn’t really plan out.
Has being a Big taught you anything? About yourself? About others? Being a Big has taught me a great deal about myself. It has taught me how important it is to be open minded, non-judgmental, and to just simply live in the moment. I think we can all learn a great deal from kids in the way they accept one another regardless of any cultural or racial differences, and how they live in the moment with a hunger for learning and curiosity. Being a Big has also taught me that we all have different journeys in life but no matter the circumstances or challenges we endure, it is important to take some time to have fun and enjoy the simple things we often take for granted.
Do you have a favorite experience or memory with your Little? Yes. The time we went to the New England Patriots Kickoff Gala in Foxboro. We had the pleasure and privilege of having dinner with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and the rest of the Patriot players, cheerleaders, and coaches. Ronell also had a chance to personally meet Tom Brady and received an autographed football from him and the rest of the players on the team. We had a chance to share this experience together and we often talk about this day with much gratitude and amazement that we were lucky enough to have that experience. It was truly a fun filled day with lots of smiles, laughs, and positive feelings.
Is there a specific memory you have when you realized you were making an impact in your Little’s life? I remember speaking to Ronell’s mother on one occasion and she expressed her gratitude toward me because of his improved behavior both in and out of the classroom. After hearing this from his mother I started to realize that my time with Ronell is truly making a positive impact on his life and it brought forth a sense of responsibility and duty that I do not take lightly. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization where you can make such a positive impact on the life of a young child.
If you could describe your Little in one word, then what would it be and why? Thoughtful. Ronell has shown to be very thoughtful and mindful of others during our time together. I often notice he likes to help others in any way he can and he will think of his family often in our conversations and activities we plan together. Like the time we went apple picking, we made sure to get enough apples for all of his brothers and sisters because he did not want to leave anyone out. Little things like that are what make Ronell a very thoughtful individual.
Where do you see this friendship heading in the future? Is there anything you hope to instill in your Little? I see our friendship expanding and evolving as he navigates his way through elementary school and then middle school. These years are important to the development of a child’s mind and body. I would like to instill the hunger for knowledge, curiosity, and wellness. I feel that those can be a foundation to a healthy and fulfilling life as an adult.
How do you fit your volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters into your work schedule at CCHC? It can be quite the challenge as I often work 40 or more hours in a week and sometimes even work on the weekends. I value my time with Ronell so I do my best to carve out time for an outing or just to catch up and check in with each other. Our time together is always positive and engaging which makes it an easy choice to set a few hours on a weekend or weekday to continue our positive relationship
What advice would you give others who may be hesitant to volunteer as a Big? Take a chance. Good things can come about when we venture out of our comfort zone. I was hesitant at first too because I didn’t know what to expect and it seemed like such a big responsibility. It has been one of the best decisions I made since moving to Cape Cod. I have met so many wonderful individuals, the staff and mentor support at BBBS is excellent and the positive impact you make on a young child’s life can be everlasting and wide ranging. The great thing about volunteering for BBBS is that the time commitment is not huge but the impact you can make on a child’s life is.
If you are interested in learning more about how to become a mentor on Cape Cod, please visit https://www.bbbsmb.org/cape-cod/volunteer/.