Being a Big — Every Day

​I met Erik, age 9, and his family in March this year, and six months later I realize he has changed my life.

My wife Kristin and I decided to be a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana not only because we realized we had what seemed like a good amount of time on our hands and a nearly empty Netflix queue, but also because we have the desire to volunteer more and be more involved in our community.

A friend of ours was already involved with BBBSCI as a Big Brother, and after talking to him a bit about his experience — and after much of our own discussion and indecision — we finally decided to tear off the Band-Aid and jump in. The interview process was rather straightforward and on March 16 we met Erik at his family’s apartment.

Over these months we have worked hard to support Erik’s goals and dreams. Through our efforts and gift of time, he’s been to his first Colts game, enjoyed a day at Holiday World, been a part of STEM Scouts at his school, created a pottery gift for his mom for Mother’s Day, invited us to be a part of his birthday celebration among many other fun things — and we’re all just getting started.

But I’m playing the long game when it comes to Erik. While I enjoy going to amusement parks, movies, playing miniature golf, and eating pizza, that’s definitely not the purpose of why I’m involved. Erik may think it is for the time being, and that’s fine. I’m happy he is liking our growing friendship. He can enjoy the WWE conversations we have and the slew of good times we spend together, while I can spend a little of my time to show him all the opportunities he has to grow his world.

I’m picturing the times when I’m there as he’s walking up to receive his college diploma, when he’s fulfilled his childhood dream of being a chef by opening his first restaurant, when he invites me to his wedding and I’m not at a table in the back.

It’s my job as a Big to listen, guide, and help him achieve his goals. He’ll get there. I have faith in him.

Thanks to my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters something new has clicked in my head. Being a Big to someone else can transcend this fine program; we can always be a Big by listening to others, trying to discern where they are headed in their lives, and then working to put things in play that may help them get there.

We are all focused on our own lives, own families, own careers, and own goals; it’s hard not to be. But for the benefit of everyone, don’t forget to be a “Big”ger person; give a little something back.

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