Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor and mentee sitting in restaurant booth smiling

Become a Big: Meet Justin and Omar

You can make a BIG impact by mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). In December, we learned how Big John has been impacted by his relationship with his Little Edward and how Little Edward brought the house down at his fifth-grade talent show. In the next story of our series, Big Justin will talk about his experience with BBBS, his Little Omar and how they’ve adjusted their time spent with each other due to COVID-19.

The answers shared by these Bigs have not been edited and are proof of the genuine and important relationships being created in the community.

Little’s Age 14 years old

Match Length 4 years

Why did you become a Big? How did you first hear about BBBS?

I always knew that I wanted to be involved with helping out young people that didn’t have the best circumstances, but I really had no idea how I wanted to actually accomplish that. In the summer of 2015, I finally decided to start the process and just searched the web for local mentoring opportunities and BBBS showed up. I immediately knew that’s the path I wanted to take and started the process. We were matched in early 2016.

What do you feel your responsibilities as a Big are?

Big Brother Big Sister mentee holding mentor's baby while sitting on a couch
Omar meeting Justin’s daughter! *Photos taken prior to COVID19. As of December 1, 2020; BBBS strongly advises matches to meet virtually.

I try to treat Omar exactly like I would treat a younger sibling. It took a little while to build that sort of relationship from that point, but functionally it’s very similar to how I interacted with my little brothers growing up. My job is to be a sounding board when Omar needs it as well as a place for advice when he wants it. If he is having issues, I will take a stance where I help him learn what he’s doing wrong, and how he can improve whatever the situation might be. I also push him if it’s something that’s needed. I try to strike a balance between being a friend (whatever that might look like at the time) and being a trusted adult that he can come to.

Do you have a set day or time you go see your Little?

Nope. We definitely did early on but we both are a little scatterbrained and, frankly, very busy. Omar and I communicate constantly over text and Zoom, and during COVID at least, make plans to meet every few weeks safely and do an activity.

Where are typical places you and your Little go on a match outing? Any new routines with the shift to virtual and social distancing?

Our match meetings settled into a good pattern of just going on drives together, walking/hiking through parks, playing football or soccer together or doing homework. Every now and then, we will go grab some food and hit the arcade or something, but we haven’t done that since COVID. Since that happened, we’ve stuck with our other activities since they are mostly distant anyway and spread them out further just in case anyone doesn’t feel well (hasn’t happened yet luckily). We’ve definitely since then moved to playing video games online together and doing homework sessions over Zoom. Regardless of the method, we typically chat at least a few times a week and get together every couple of weeks just depending on what’s going on in both of our lives.

How has being a Big impacted you?

Being a Big has impacted me tremendously. In a way I think it has really prepared me for being a parent in a way that nothing else could have. I can see a lot of the same feelings that I had as a teenager in Omar and it occurs to me now how maybe I should react to situations and I’m able to use that to help him.

Big Brother Big Sister mentor and mentee smiling at amusement park
Big Justin and Little Omar all smile after a day of riding roller coasters *Photos taken prior to COVID19. As of December 1, 2020; BBBS strongly advises matches to meet virtually.

Do you have a favorite story about your Little that you will always remember?

One of my favorite memories with Omar is convincing him to ride his first roller coaster. It took a while to get him onboard but once we rode that first time the floodgates were open and by the end of the day, we had ridden so many times that I had a headache and was about to throw up by the time he let us leave, haha.

Being a Big is an impactful commitment that you can start today. Are you ready to be a Big? To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit its website or social channels (FacebookTwitter). If you are interested in becoming a Big, visit the Be a Big page to start your journey as well as find information on the upcoming National Mentoring Month campaign.

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