On Being a Big Brother

I've been a volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America for the last 8 years. I count it as one of the most worthwhile things I've done. I had my first "little" for three years in California, and I've had my current little, AJ, for the past five years, here in NC.

I got my first little when he was eleven and, in some ways, it was too late. His family was too broken. He had been raising himself for too long. I did the best I could but, at times, it was difficult to tell what impact I was having. With AJ it's just the opposite. We met when he was nine, his Mom is a really together lady, and he has been enthusiastic about every experience, from riding motocross bikes to playing ukuleles to learning how to knit, and even helping me paint my studio a couple of weeks ago. The kid, in short, is awesome. Tonight he proved just how awesome, once again. I told him I was going to teach him how to sew and, in his usual style, he said: "great". And it was. The kid had a blast. I had a blast. We made some janky potholders (mine pictured above). He learned a ton and he hung in there even when things weren't looking perfect. Who could ask for more? For pretty much every week for the past five years, each experience with AJ has been just as great.

Which brings me to my point. I get a lot of people asking about the program and how it works, but very few end up volunteering. There is a huge need for "bigs" in every city in the nation and a lot of the kids who sign up for a "big" simply end up aging out of the program and never being matched. Sad. So, if you've ever thought about giving a little of your time to a younger person who is in search of guidance, I highly recommend Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. It will be a highlight of your life.


  1. Hey there, just wonderin' what part of NC you're based in. I've been reading the blog and didnt realize we were in the same state!

  2. Heather - Thanks for the comment!

    Anon - I'm in Durham.

  3. Hey Paul!

    That's a great post. I've been mulling over the idea of being a "big" forever, but I never looked into it.

    One question I have is: what kind of commitment is there once you team up with a "little?" You mentioned a three-year and five-year stint. Is that usual? Not that I'm not interested in long-term help -- my wife and I are currently going through the process of foster adoption, and that's as long-term as it gets -- but I'm just wondering what the expectations are.

  4. It's a one year commitment. It flies by. I highly recommend it!