At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mentoring Respect and Humanity — Mirroring Images

by Larry Beyak

Growing up was a lonely, confusing journey. I was the lone male in my dysfunctional family. School was a very intimidating place; fear, severe asthma, and poverty taught me the wrong lessons of life. Growing up was truly a struggle, and being alone offered no guidance, nor the opportunity to share my interests. My mother contacted Big Brothers, and I was partnered up with my Big Brother, Gus.

On the day Gus entered my life, it changed. First impressions are lasting impressions. That initial meeting proved pivotal. Gus was an extremely patient, caring, and gentle giant. He reached out to shake my hand, a firm, warm handshake that immediately forged a bond of trust and friendship. Nobody before or since has been able to establish such an instant bond.

Over the initial few months, Gus taught me about reliability. Every week, he would call without fail on Thursday night, to plan our time together. Whether going to his house or a Ti-Cats game, or helping him do something, I was never alone again.

Our interests were very similar, right down to our choice of vocation. Since the age of nine, my dream had been to become a paramedic. I didn’t know it at the time, but learned later that Gus worked for the local ambulance corps. Although we are decades apart in what has become a deeply respected and educated profession, my career path has coincidentally mirrored his — something that gives me great pride.

Gus also instilled three gifts that I never would have received without him. He taught me respect, for myself and others; humanity, and how to recognize it and live within its shadow; and finally, how paying it forward, in the form of mentorship, allows us to have patience and be tolerant of each other.

Gus didn’t make a difference, he made the difference in my life. This, I think, is the true goal of Big Brothers Big Sisters and should never be taken for granted.

Thank you, Gus.

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