How would you like to get out of your office and take a few hours off to act like a kid again? A few hours of fun. A few hours to enjoy life and to add enjoyment to someone else's.
In October 1999 I finished my screening to become a Big Brother. With a great sense of excitement, I chose to be matched with a 10 year old called Robert who, according to his description, enjoyed dancing and video games. Needless to say, the vision of a 10 year old doing “The Twist” while playing Donkey Kong entered my head. Robert had been on the waiting list for two years and said he was very happy to finally get his very own Big Brother.
Our first conversation revolved mainly around the all-important pre-Halloween topic of how to roll one's eyes far enough back into one's skull so that they appear completely white. It should be noted that Robert was going out as a zombie.
The first outing provided an interesting beginning to our relationship. Robert met Jimmy (my car) and I was introduced to his best friend Danny. The plan was to go to Gatineau Park and show the guys the beauty of the trails in the fall. To make our first outing all the more memorable, we ran out of gas, pushed Jimmy into a gas station and had to get a boost. Luckily for me Robert looked on this as a “fun” experience. After our rough start we made our way into the highlands of Quebec, where within a few short hours, Robert and I began to build a strong friendship.
In the last ten months Robert and I have continued to become great friends. Hanging out with Robert for a few hours every week allows me to forget about the problems of everyday life and just have fun. As someone preparing to get married in September and start the adult years of my life, being a Big Brother allows me to gain some experience in dealing with the inquisitive mind of a young boy. Finally, and most importantly, I have gained another friend with whom I enjoy spending time.
As for Robert, being a Little Brother has meant gaining a friend to try new and exciting things with. It allows him to take some time away from the problems of being young. And most importantly, he gets to have fun.
During our time as friends we have seen The Ottawa 67's, watched movies, made pizza, and played Laser Tag, Frisbee, Chess, and Jenga. We have gone hiking, helped Big Brothers with events, checked out museums, and set up Rob's email. And Robert has tried diligently to re-introduce me to the modern era of video games.
What, in a round about way, Robert and I are saying is that being a Big and Little Brother is not only fun, but it also helps build self-confidence and mutual respect. The Big Brothers program truly does “build futures through friendships.”
September is Big Brother Month. In the Ottawa-Carleton region, there are approximately 6,000 boys who could benefit from the Big Brothers program. At present, there are more than 150 boys who have registered with Big Brothers and are currently on a waiting list of up to two years. Help us put a smile on the face of one of the Little Brothers waiting in your area for their special friend, just like Tom. Call Big Brothers of Ottawa-Carleton at 237-5757.