Manly Mondays- Interview with Ryan Lemon

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.

Ryan Lemon and his wife Satin have been a Big Couple to Andrew for 10 years.

Why did you decide to become a Big Couple instead of a Big Brother?

Ryan Lemon: At the time, we were thinking of opportunities we could do together from a volunteer perspective. We also wanted to make a difference in the lives of youth. We had looked into Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters or McKenzie’s Hope here in Huntington. Satin and I sat on a board with was an ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters or was on the recruiting end and that’s how we got connected.

Did you have any hesitation about the vetting process?

Ryan Lemon: No, we were impressed with how thorough it was, it makes sense considering who you are spending time with. It seemed like the organization really went to lengths to make sure the fit was going to be strong.

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

Ryan Lemon: Oh, that happened pretty quick. Initially, we weren’t sure if he’d have fun hanging out with two old people. He was just a young guy at 8, and he seemed comfortable right out of the gate.

What are some of the fun things you guys have one with Andrew?

Ryan Lemon: He’s a big animal guy. It may not sound like fun to some, but we spent a lot of time in pet stores. We’d go out to eat at different places. The thing we did most often was swim at the YMCA or swim in our pool at the house. We’d visit his grandparents’ place from time to time.

What’s the best thing about being a Big?

Ryan Lemon: It’s just really fulfilling to have even a small impact on the direction of a life of a young kid who may need to outsource some values or find another way to occupy their time. We grew a lot through the experience. We really do feel like we’ve gotten more out of this match than we’ve given to Andrew. He might say the same thing from his perspective. On both ends, it’s just been really fulfilling and really rewarding.

Has it ever been challenging?

Ryan Lemon: Just different phases he goes through. We never questioned if we wanted to be involved though. You think about his development from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school, we’ve never raised a kid his age and didn’t have kids for the first three or four years we were with him, so we didn’t know how to coach through some of those periods. It’s been great to watch him grow into a man, from manners and courtesy and looking me and others in the eye and shaking hands. He’s a great young man.

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

Ryan Lemon: Two close friends of ours just became a Big Couple actually. We’ve both mentioned the experiences that we’ve had with Big Brothers Big Sisters. We’re both networked with several non-profits here in Huntington and we’ve served on several boards so we’ve talked about Big Brothers Big Sisters often.

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

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