First, they were Big and Little — now they work at a law firm together | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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First, they were Big and Little — now they work at a law firm together

Joseph Garcia moved to Kansas City when he was 8 years old.

For many years, Joseph’s dad drove his mom to work at McDonald’s each morning while he rode along in the back seat. Their morning commute took them past Michael’s, a men’s clothing store at the corner of Main & 19th.

Growing up in northeast Kansas City, Joseph knew his neighborhood well enough, but didn’t really get to experience much outside of his small piece of the world. He had dreams about what he wanted to do when he grew up, but he didn’t really know how he could turn them into reality.

“I remember looking out the window as we drove past Michael’s. I’d read the signs on the building about the suits they were selling,” said Joseph. “I remember thinking, ‘That must be where rich people shop — maybe one day I’ll buy a suit there.”

Skyscrapers, cherry limeades, and college dreams

Years later, Joseph was matched with Luke Whitworth, his new Big Brother, during his sophomore year of high school.

“When I first met Luke, I was like, ‘Wow...he’s really tall,” said Joseph. “As we started to hang out and get to know one another, we really started to click. I also started to realize just how big the world was — he really opened my eyes to a lot.”

While Joseph and Luke loved to explore many different places in the city, their favorite spot was always Winstead’s. At Winstead’s, they ate together, spent time together, and shared life together. One topic of conversation that came up a lot was Joseph’s plans for after high school.

“I always knew that education was the most important way to advance yourself in life. My parents instilled that in me at a young age,” said Joseph. “But I don’t think it really clicked for me until I became a Little. Luke inspired me to really devote myself to working hard in school.”

Joseph had known for a while that he wanted to go to college, but he didn’t really know how to make it happen.

“Dreams without goals remain dreams, right? I knew I needed to figure something out,” said Joseph. “I didn’t have goals in place to achieve my dream. Luke really helped me build a plan and was with me through every step of the application process.”

From brothers to coworkers

After graduating high school, Joseph moved to Springfield, MO to study professional writing at Missouri State University. While they were separated by distance, Luke and Joseph stayed in touch throughout Joseph’s college experience.

When he graduated from Missouri State, Joseph moved back to KC to work for a large law firm. Around the same time, Luke decided to open up his own firm, Whitworth Law Office, in the Crossroads. As Luke’s firm grew and took on more and more clients, he realized he needed someone to help him out.

“I didn’t want to just hire anyone, you know? I knew Joseph was in the area, and I knew he was maybe looking for new opportunities,” said Luke. “It kind of worked out perfectly. I was so excited for us to have the opportunity to come back together in such a cool way.”

In May 2018, Joseph joined his Big Brother and became a paralegal at Whitworth Law Office.

To law school, and beyond

In just under a year, Joseph, fluent in Spanish, has already found ways to help the firm grow and thrive. At Whitworth Law Office, he’s helped lead the charge to reach and serve minority communities that are often underserved by the legal profession.

“It can be difficult to get help when you don’t have someone from your community that looks like you that can represent you,” said Luke. “Joseph is helping us create and gather the resources we need to grow to better serve more people in our area.”

On top of his full-time job of writing various legal documents for the firm, Joseph is also preparing to start law school later this fall. After receiving an incredible scholarship offer, Joseph has decided to attend DePaul University in Chicago.

To celebrate Joseph’s accomplishments, Luke plans to take him to Michael’s — the same store he marveled at as a child — to pick out a brand-new suit.

"It’s not every day that you meet someone who is willing to go above and beyond to be there for you,” said Joseph. “He has helped me pursue my dreams and has exceeded my wildest expectations. I never would have imagined that I’d have the opportunity to work at a law firm with my best friend.”

Little Brother Joseph and Big Brother Luke.