Luis and Kevin were Matched in 2011. Luis was thirteen when his mother, Caroline, enrolled him in the program hoping that he’d be able to connect with a positive male role model. Now, over ten years later, we sat down with Luis and Kevin to learn about their experience and how Big Brothers Big Sisters has impacted both of them.
Luis, tell me about your life growing up:
I was born and raised in Westside KC. Then we moved to Overland Park for the schools. Growing up, it was my mom, my twin sister, and myself. My mom was a single mom and she wanted me to have a male figure in my life, so she enrolled me in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
What was life like before you were matched with Kevin?
Well when my mom wanted to enroll me, there was definitely some pushback from me at first. My mom did it because I was just becoming a teenager, and she couldn’t do it all herself. At the time, I didn’t like the idea of some “father figure” coming into my life. But the reason I opened up and let Kevin into my life was that I realized that he wasn’t a replacement, he was an addition. That’s what I think a lot of boys like me can think, especially where I’m from in the Westside. But if you can be open-minded, it’s worth it.
When do you think your perspective on that started to change?
I was a little skeptical at our first couple of hangouts of what our relationship was supposed to be. But then it just sort of developed naturally and I started seeing him as someone to do stuff with. He started as someone to hang out with when I didn’t want to do what my mom and sister were doing. Then grew into a male role model for me as that trust grew and as I was growing older in high school. He was someone that I felt like I could talk to. Then about a year or two years into being Matched, he was really just a Big Brother to me.
Kevin, what was your first impression of Luis?
I remember reading his application and I realized we were both into sports. That’s how we first hit it off and connected. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on it. I just let things develop naturally. We’d go to movies, go eat, watch sports, and hang out just like brothers would. And I finally had someone to go to the Marvel movie premiere with. We still do that now. He was just a good kid; athletic, outgoing. He was very similar to me.
How would you describe your Big back then?
He was someone that had a completely different lifestyle than what I was used to seeing. He wore suits every day, and I thought he was cool immediately.
He also showed me a lot about what it meant to show empathy and care for loved ones. He had sisters and I got to see how he interacted with them and I thought, ok that’s the kind of relationship I hope I can have with my sister when we’re adults.
Kevin, tell me about how you’ve exposed each other to new things:
It’s been really cool to be around his family. I have a very small family that’s not super close and he has a very large family that’s super close, which is cool to see.
His mother Caroline and I have been close and open with each other over the years. And they have been there for me too. It goes both ways. They have all been a great emotional support to me and we have all just meshed together.
I’ve made some mistakes growing up, and I feel like I could help him by sharing my experiences, and telling him what I did and what happened. Being open with him and talking about hard things is something a young man needs.
How has Kevin helped you reach some of your goals?
Kevin helped me get through college. I was a first-generation college student and it was so helpful to get his perspective and advice on how things work, from school to the social parts. He also taught me so much about the financial world. I grew up where no one knew or talked about financial education. He showed me that was something I could pursue and be good at.
Do you have a favorite memory of you two?
Senior Night first comes to mind. On Senior Night for high school football, I could pick the people that were most important in me getting to that point in life, and bring them out on the field with me. I knew I wanted my mom, my grandpa, and Kevin because he played a significant role. He was family.
Kevin, what’s your favorite memory with Luis?
The day he graduated from K-State last year was phenomenal. Also, his high school Senior Night, and when he got his license were very special days.
What’s your and Kevin’s relationship like now, over ten years later?
I started working at a private equity firm and venture capital firm and then decided to go the start-up route. Kevin and his buddies developed an IP for this tool and they didn’t have the time to implement it, so I ran with it and started an entity. From there I built a management company for more ventures. Now I have a digital consulting firm called Access Management Group, as well as a production studio. He’s on the Board of Directors for my company. We’re business partners!
Sales is what Kevin does and he helps me with the peer-to-peer communication part of the business. He taught me that the biggest secret to business is psychology, and to go into everything with an open mind and empathy for others.
What are your hopes for Luis in the future?
I’m looking forward to watching him spread his wings now. He’s still so young, but he’s so dedicated and smart. He’s starting businesses now, and my hopes are that it all continues to be successful for him. I’m just proud of him.
Luis, would you recommend Big Brother Big Sisters to other kids now?
I would one hundred percent recommend it. It changed my life. It really did. It gave me new experiences and helped me become the person I am today. All kids could benefit from having someone else in their corner.
One of the most valuable things I’ve gotten out of this experience is perspective. I got experience with a whole different lifestyle, a different way of thinking, a different-looking family, and I’m a better person because of that.