Manly Mondays- Interview with Michael Dennison

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana has a waiting list of more than 400 children hoping to meet their Big Brother, Big Sister or Big Couple. More than 300 of those are boys, so we’re introducing “Manly Mondays” to ask men throughout the area why they enjoy being a Big Brother. To volunteer for the program or get more information, call 260-456-1600 or go to our website to fill out a volunteer form

Big Brother Michael Dennison, a territory manager for Shure-Trac tell trailers in Markle, has been matched with Little Brother Denver since 2010. They have had some adventures to share during those 11 years.

Michael, how did you decide to become a Big Brother?

Michael Dennison: I started hanging out with Denver when he was 9. I had moved back from Atlanta, Georgia, and I had a lot of free time. I was single and a couple of buddies were involved with the Lunch Buddy program and Real Men Read. They told me a little about it, and I decided I wanted to go all in with Community Based and get matched. The process was like 20-30 minutes online. I had a lot of free time and flexibility and no one to answer to but myself. Now I’m married with baby No. 2 on the way. I thought about it, and I feel like I’m a pretty solid guy and I can add something to this boy’s life as far as just being there. I feel like it’s kind of our duty as humans, it’s only right to help others out.

How long did it take you to feel comfortable with your Little?

Michael Dennison: My personality is one where I can get comfortable with any situation, but he was very shy, and I would say we weren’t comfortable until after the first few visits. The first time we went out, we went to Coney Island, and he wanted to order a cheeseburger. I said, “We’re here to have Coney Dogs,” but then because of him I found out later how great the cheeseburgers are. He wasn’t much of a talker when he was younger, he just likes to soak everything in. I remember telling his mom I was going to break him of his shyness, and she said, “Good luck.” It took some time, but he’s hilarious, he’s out-going, he’s caring and it’s every quality I’d wish for a son or a brother of my own.

How soon did it take before you knew you’d made the right decision?

Michael Dennison: First day. Big Brothers Big Sisters does a great job of matching you with someone of similar interests. I love movies and I like sports, and those are the two main things Denver likes. I don’t like to go to movies by myself, and it was the one constant thing we did all the time. We’d go out to eat and then to the movies.

What else did you guys do for fun?

Michael Dennison: We’d go to the Komets and TinCaps games. He’s so shy he wouldn’t speak during games, and he was just so involved in watching sports and didn’t have a lot to say. He came to my lake a bunch and brought some friends up a few times. We did a lot of sporting events, and I went to watch a lot of his baseball games. He was a heck of a player.

How much have you gotten out of this?

Michael Dennison: It’s hard to put into words what he has meant to me. He was in my wedding a couple of years ago. I won Big Brother of the year, and the only reason I won was because of him. It takes some work, and you have trials and tribulations as a person, but he just made it easy. He’s a good kid with a good family. I had an opportunity to speak at the Brad Miller Gala. I’ve always told him that he has given more to me than I could give to him. We still check in and hang out.

How often do you talk to your friends about becoming Bigs?

Michael Dennison: Early on, a lot. I always told people, if you have the time, get involved. I do Real Men Read and I plan on doing Lunch Buddy when it gets back up and going again. There are a lot of other things you can do other than the main thing of being a match. You can drive, you can volunteer at an event or you can help make calls for donations. They’ve heard it all from me. I continue to pump them up. It’s a cool opportunity and I see a lot of my friends at these events. The message is growing, and it’s definitely worthwhile. It’s something rewarding and fulfilling, especially when you are making a difference in a kid’s life.

Stay tuned for more “Manly Mondays!” We have a lot more stories to share with you!

To volunteer for the program or get more information, call 260-456-1600 or go to our website to fill out a volunteer form

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