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, October 1, 2014

My Selfish Life as a Big Brother

I’ve spent well over thirty years as a Big Brother, with no end in sight. I’ve been the best man at a Little’s wedding, had a Little’s baby named after me, helped a Little through the death of his mother and the death of his best friend, done a cross-country motorcycle trip with a grown-up Little, and even done several four-day/night-long flagpole sits in grotesque weather to raise awareness for our local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

I remember applying for my first Little and having long conversations with my caseworker to explain that, even though I was a very young man, a long-haired motorcycle rider, and didn’t own a car, I was completely responsible and safe on my bike. It took some convincing to get my caseworker and my Little’s mother to finally agree that I could be trusted and that my Little could ride on the only vehicle I owned: a huge touring motorcycle.

My first day as a Big Brother began when I was introduced to my Little and his mother. I gave another big speech to his mother and our caseworker about my safe and responsible riding, and eventually my brand-new little friend and I rode off. I could see his mother’s face in my mirror, a combination of happiness and trepidation. Perhaps I looked too closely, because then . . . I crashed. It was the first and only crash I’ve ever had. In reality it was minor, but it was monumental in my mind! My Little thought it was funny, and his mother turned out to be a saint.

And that’s how I began a thirty-year journey of extreme selfishness. I’ve had plenty of smiling, nodding heads approving of these decades of my dedication to this great program, yet I can’t shake the feeling that, even though I’m proud of the role modelling and time and effort I’ve put into sharing my fortunate life with others, it’s all about my feelings, my satisfaction, and my self-esteem. Because ultimately, by spending my entire adult life as a Big Brother and allowing these important relationships to be part of my life, I have been the truly fortunate one. Simply put, my life has been better as a result of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the bonus is that, by channeling my selfishness in community-minded ways, perhaps I’ve also made a positive contribution here and there!

by Andy Beesley

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