Sometimes it only takes one person to create a ripple of change. One change creates another, then another. As a child, Big Brother Raz had several friends who participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Even his own brother had a Big. It was through his brother’s experiences, that Raz learned the best thing you can do for someone is to simply be there for them. Today, it is Raz who has touched the life of a Little named Nicholas.
There are some things you are never too old to do – like playing video games, shooting hoops and collecting basketball cards. One of Raz’s favorite things about the program is that he is able to get away from his everyday responsibilities and simply let loose. Raz says he enjoys spending time with Nick because it keeps him feeling young. “It is the perfect excuse to do all the fun ‘kid’ things that many adults want to do anyway, but no longer allow themselves to, such as, playing video games, shopping for Laker’s gear, and catching the latest sequel to Shrek,” Raz says.
Over the years, Raz has tried to always be very open with Nick’s mom, Michelle, and keep her aware of what was going on in their relationship. He says that Michelle has been extremely helpful and encouraging, both to Nick and himself. She makes sure Nick is always prepared for their time out, and she always lets him “come out and play.” Nick’s mom likes Raz so much that they often joke that she has tried to adopt him and even cooks for him from time to time. “She always let’s me know how much she cares and appreciates the time I spend with her child,” Raz said. Michelle recalls that even from the beginning Raz was a part of the family.
In about the second year of the Match Raz saw something that concerned him. Nick began struggling in school and behaving wildly. Or, in Raz’s words, he was “acting a fool in school.” Raz began to worry and wondered if Nick’s behavior had anything to do with him. His Case Manager and Nick’s mom assured Raz that it was nothing he was doing and encouraged him not to give up on their friendship. Ever since Nick started acting out in school, Raz has attended several of Nick’s parent-teacher conferences. His extra interest and support has motivated Nick to do better in school. Over the years, Michelle has noticed that Nick has become more respectful of his peers, family members and teachers. Nick no longer makes excuses for his actions. He has learned that it is important to accept responsibility for his behavior. “Raz’s guidance has taught me to become more of a young man and less of a child,” Nick said.
Today Raz and Nick are able to spend even more time together doing something they love- playing basketball. When Raz was asked to coach an area youth-basketball team, he readily agreed on one condition…his little brother, Nick, would be allowed to play. Without Raz’s help Nick wouldn’t have been able to afford the sign-up fee and would have lost his chance to play altogether. Today the team is working hard with a record of 8-0 and according to Raz, Nick, his point guard, is one of the best players on the team. According to Raz, Nick is a very important asset to the team. “Nick hits big shots late in the game to help us down the stretch every week.”
Raz says that while Nick, like many kids, doesn’t tell him how much he is appreciates him. But, he can always tell that their time together really means something to Nick simply by watching the way he conducts himself around Raz. “You can tell that he’s excited to hang out and then you know it is worthwhile.” Michelle says that Nick gets so excited before each basketball game he is oftentimes ready to go as much as an hour before Raz is suppose to pick him up. “Raz has allowed me to do so many cool things, like play basketball. He is so fun and cool. Without him I would never have gotten to experience so many things and see so many places,” Nick said.
When the opportunity arises, Raz tells others about his experiences as a Big and encourages them to consider becoming one. He does this because he feels that the program has affected his life in so many ways. “Being a Big Brother has meant so much to me. It gives me an opportunity to hang out with a kid and stay grounded. It is rewarding to know that I can set a positive example for a kid. When I was a kid several of my friends had Bigs and I knew back then this was a program I would get involved in when I got older. Now that I’ve been a Big for a while I’m always looking for extra ways to help out.”