It was at the movies where I realized how lucky I was to be matched with such an incredible kid. We were standing in line for popcorn and Elias politely asked if he could have the popcorn that also came with candy and a soda. After getting all the treats for the movie, we sat down and enjoyed “The Avengers.”
As we were leaving the theater, I grabbed Elias’s empty popcorn bag to throw out and noticed there was an extra bag of M&M’S he didn’t touch. I assumed he was just full from the treats and popcorn we had throughout the movie. As I went to throw out the bag of candy, Elias stopped me and said, “Oh! Don’t throw those out, I was saving those for my sister!” I don’t know many 11-year-olds who think about their sibling when it comes to things like that. I am continuously impressed with his thoughtfulness. This is just one of the dozen stories I could tell that would illustrate how great of a kid Elias is.
I don’t know the secret Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters has to matching Bigs and Littles, but boy did they get Elias and me right. We’ve shared countless memories together, whether it’s been playing basketball, bowling, finding the best local arcades, or finding any excuse to eat pizza. Each and every time we meet, there is a new story I have to tell my wife, something funny or kindhearted Elias did.
We have been able to share memories at a Red Sox game and a Celtics game. Watching Elias chant “DEE-FENSE!” as loud as he can along with the crowd at the Garden or dance to the music in between innings at Fenway makes this experience different. When I look back at my childhood, it was filled with watching and playing sports. To be able to see the impact it makes from the other side – now experiencing these things through Elias – is incredibly rewarding.
I look forward to each and every meeting and I know Elias feels the same way. Every time I pick him up, he jumps in the car with an incredible attitude, excited for the day we have planned ahead. The beauty of the program is that it not only makes an incredible impact in a child’s life, but also on the mentor’s life.
Going into this experience, I was hesitant. It’s a big responsibility and it’s tough to make this type of commitment. Any sense of hesitation immediately left me after the first minute of meeting Elias. We were at his home to go through paperwork with his mom and a JBBBS clinical match specialist. As I walked into their home and sat down on the couch, instead of Elias maybe being shy or reserved, he sat down right next to me and told me how excited he was to get a Big Brother. His excitement and openness erased any doubt I may have had about this decision to dedicate my time to JBBBS.
For me, the most rewarding aspect of the JBBBS experience is the ability to see the impact you are making in somebody’s life. The incredibly thankful texts I receive from Elias’s mother and the excitement Elias shows leading up to and during all of our activities is something that never gets old. Those little things are what make this experience so life-changing.
For more information, visit jbbbs.org.