In most families, a big brother’s job is to protect, guide and give younger siblings someone to turn to when they get in trouble.
And basically, isn’t that sort of an informal description of a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor?
That’s essentially what happened when Big Brother Ron Reece was required four years ago by his position at Raytheon to head overseas for three months. He’d been matched for about a year with Little Brother Michael and wondered what would happen to him during that time.
That’s when Ron’s son Adam stepped up. Adam was 18 at the time and Michael was 11.
“I was hanging out with them a little bit, and I took the initiative and talked to my dad about it,” Adam said. “I didn’t want Michael to not have a Big.”
In other words, Adam applied through the agency and became Michael’s step-Big Brother, or a secondary big.
“I felt like it was a good idea,” Mike said. “I knew him pretty well because the majority of the time he went out with us all the time.”
After Ron returned from his assignment, Adam has continued to hang out with his dad and Michael as another Big Brother for Michael.
“Michael is as much my son as Adam is,” Ron said. “I love the kid just like I love Adam, and that’s all there is to it. It’s just like being a family together. We all laugh and have a good time and that’s what it’s all about.”
Ironically, this is the only kind of primary Big and secondary Big in the BBBS Northeast Indiana agency, though there have been similar matchings in the past. There’s also the Big Couple program which matches a pair in a relationship with a Little. There are approximately 40 of those Big Couple matches in the agency.
Now the Reeces’ match with Michael has become natural for all three. Almost every Thursday they go out to eat or to a Komets game on the weekend. Sometimes Michael and Adam get together separately to play video games or to play at Combat Ops.
All three also participate in Bowl For Kids Sake, and the competition can include some fairly serious teasing as only can happen between males who are family members.
“We have a special bond,” Adam said. “He’s basically family to us now. I want him to have the childhood like I’ve had. I want him to have as much fun as he can while pushing away a little bit of the things that are going on in his life.”
Adam said he’s enjoyed the experience so much he’s considering becoming a Big Brother again in the future once he graduates from Ivy Tech with a business degree and life settles down a little. He also works at Peg Perego.
“It’s like Adam is the Big Brother and I’m the Big Dad,” Ron said. “I’ll say, `Let’s do this today,’ and they’ll go, `No.’ `OK, what do you guys want to do?’ and we’ll end up doing that. That’s fine with me as long as everyone is happy. We get to spend time together and talk about the week.”
If you’d like to find out more about being involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana as a potential Big, volunteer or donor, call 260-456-1600 or go to bbbsnei.org.