File this one under tales that tug on your heartstrings. When Just Out reader Aaron Kirk Douglas, Chair Multnomah County Ambassador Board Big Brothers/Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, wanted to inform us of an upcoming Big Brother, Big Sister luncheon and breakfast events he didn’t just send a press release. For the 3 “Start Something” events scheduled for Vancouver this Thursday the 27th, Longview Tuesday October 23rd and right here in Portland Thursday November 15th he urged us to post by telling his own true and heartfelt story about his experience as a Big Brother. Here are his powerful words:
There is nothing as rewarding as being a friend and mentor to an at-risk young person achieve their potential. When I first met my little brother six years ago, he was living in foster care, and was later reunited with his mother and three siblings. A couple of years after we were matched, he told me that if we hadn’t met, he probably would have joined a gang. This spring, he graduated from high school and joined the Navy, and in just a few weeks I will be attending his boot camp graduation ceremony where he writes he has already earned a position of leadership within the division.
My little is Latino and had African-American foster parents. I believe that our match helped his family and friends to see beyond gay stereotypes. Plus, since he happens to have a mother who is such a hard worker and a great cook, I was fortunate to enjoy many a fantastic home cooked meal.
It hasn’t always been easy; sometimes it took an emotional toll. Being a big brother isn’t as demanding as parenting, but it does require being a caring friend and mentor. It does require some nagging — the same as you might get from any sibling. I occasionally checked in on his school progress by communicating directly with teachers. I attended his sporting events and spent some time with him on homework. Mostly we did things like bowling, video games, hiking, racquetball, running, and just about anything else that I thought would keep him out of trouble!
A few years ago when he got a smartphone, he started texting me almost every day. One day he sent me a text that read simply: “thank you for caring.” That made it all worthwhile.
There are a lot of ways to get involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and because there are always a lot of boys signed up for mentors, they are always especially in need of male volunteers. Involvement programs range from in-school tutoring to direct matches to a “Sports Buddies” program where it’s you and a buddy attending local sporting events with free tickets provided by the Timbers, Trailblazers, and more!
There will be a table at the free breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 15th 7:30-8:30 am at the Oregon Convention Center. It’s sponsored in part by Nike and a really fun and informative morning. Check out the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Pacific Northwest website for more ways you can get involved and information on mentoring.
About Alley Hector
Alley Hector is proud to be a Q, a PDXer and Just Out's Editor-in-Chief.