I've Been a Big Brother for a Year — Here's What I've Learned | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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I've Been a Big Brother for a Year — Here's What I've Learned

Hey there! My name is Blake, and my Little Brother’s name is Kenath. I’d like to tell you a little bit about our match and what it’s like to be a Big Brother.

I originally applied to Be a Big Brother because I wanted to get involved in the community here in Kansas City. It was late 2016, and I had just moved to town and was looking for a way to make a difference in someone’s life. I didn’t know exactly how that was going to happen at first, but looking back, I can definitely say that it hasn’t been a one-way street. More on that later.

Our first year

When Kenath and I were first matched, our case manager met me at his house. I’ll admit, as we were walking in, I felt a little nervous, but Kenath and his family were really excited to meet me and made me feel right at home. I enjoyed meeting his siblings and getting to know everyone before we were “officially” matched.

At first, our match outings were a little bit of just trial and error. We were still getting to know each other, so a lot of our conversations were more surface level and about day-to-day things rather than any deeper topics. I originally thought that my role as a Big would look more like a coaching or teaching role, but it turned out to be a really genuine, brotherly friendship. It’s a lot of fun, too.

When he turned 15, Kenath was really excited to learn how to drive, so we spent a lot of time together practicing. He did pretty well, too, because my car managed to make it out of our training sessions without any new “beauty” marks. Turning 15 and finally being old enough to drive is a big moment in many of our lives, and it was really cool to be able to see how excited he was and be a part of that moment with him.

Throughout our match, our case manager, Maggie, has been an incredibly helpful resource. She checks-in with us regularly to make sure that everything is going well and that we’re both getting something out of the experience. She’s the first person I call if I ever have any questions or concerns, and she’s always eager to help.

One year match anniversary

We just recently hit our one-year match anniversary, which was really cool for both of us. The one-year milestone was really important for us because it gave us that opportunity to really grow into a “natural” match.

Now that we’ve been matched for a year, both of us feel more relaxed and open around each other. We’ve moved beyond the surface-level conversations — we get to talk about what’s going on “behind-the-scenes” in his life, like his first break-up with his girlfriend or how he can improve his grades.

Kenath is about to start his senior year of high school, so I’m really looking forward to seeing and helping him take on the challenge of college applications, scholarships, and deciding what he wants to do after graduation. Kenath is incredibly driven and smart and has so much to offer the world, and I feel like I’m empowered as his Big Brother to encourage him to continue pursuing a bright future. Getting to that one-year milestone helped us establish a firm foundation for our friendship, and I know our best years are in front of us.

Overall, my experience as a Big Brother has been incredible. I had countless mentors in my life that helped me grow into who I am today, and it’s been very rewarding to have the opportunity to do that for someone else.

Kenath already has a great support system, but my involvement adds to that support system to help him as he goes on to achieve even bigger and better things. My goal has always been to open some more doors for him and to open his eyes to the fact that there is a big world out there, and he’s capable of doing anything that he wants — college-wise, career-wise, relationship-wise, anything. He has a really good head on his shoulders and is bound to do good things, and I’m just really proud to be involved in his life.

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Big, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Not only will you feel like you are making a difference in someone else’s life, but it will make a difference in your life, too.