Brother Al and Little Brother John have reached 9 years of friendship! Much has changed and much has remained the same over those years. John is entering his junior year of high school and in 2017, Al retired from a 44-year career. John started working his first job at a fast food restaurant this summer. He and Al are still getting together nearly every other weekend, usually to spend time on the basketball court or baseball field. This spring the two tried something new…disc golf at Allaire State Park’s new course. While Al loved it, John did not enjoy tracking down his Frisbee which kept landing off course in the woods! Each year John is asked if he’d like to continue the friendship with Al and each year John has another good reason to continue, “He’s adventurous and likes to explore new places”. We look forward to seeing their friendship continue.
BBBS Program Manager, Sandi Mangino, took a few minutes to reflect on Al and John’s 9 year match and offered insight into their match and what makes a successful friendship.
What qualities help make a successful Big-Little match?
A Big who believes in their Little and makes it apparent to the Little through celebrating, comforting, inspiring, listening and collaborating with them. Having a Big who shares some of the same interests as their Little; introducing their Little to new interests and allowing the Littles’ interests to be brought to light, giving them a chance to bring their interests into the friendship experience.
What about Al & John’s relationship stands out to you?
Longevity. John was just 7 years old when he and Al were matched. At that time they seemed to connect through John’s enthusiasm for fishing and bike riding which were the interests Al introduced him to. Undoubtedly, John has grown up and his interests have changed. Whereas Al is all about the outdoors and nature, John’s interests in outdoor activities mostly lies in sports. Their friendship has endured despite the fact their interests differ.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with Al & John?
John has a fun if not playful personality; he has no trouble engaging in a conversation with me during his update phone calls. It has been a pleasure witnessing the transformation of John to a high school student. Al has a calm personality which is helpful in balancing their friendship. Al’s many years of consistency with John is inspirational.
What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in becoming a mentor?
Just do it! (Sorry Nike.) You will be delighted by how significant and meaningful 2-4 hours of time spent twice a month will become to a young person.