Big Couple Ian and Jamie have been matched with their Little Brother Dev in the community-based program since 2011.
Why did you decide to become a Big Couple?
We wanted to do something to give back to the community. Since both of us had experience working with young people in the past, it was a natural fit. Working with a kid that is Dev’s age can make a big impact on their life.
Were you nervous about becoming a Big Couple? How were your hesitations alleviated?
We weren’t really nervous, but we weren’t really certain that we would form a strong relationship with Dev before we met him or how long that would take. It turns out that he is an incredibly outgoing and open person, so we actually formed a bond pretty quickly.
What is your favorite thing to do with your Little Brother?
We enjoy doing creative activities such as crafts, cooking or working on a model airplane. Dev is really open to trying different things so we try to find as many new things to do together as possible.
How would you describe your relationship with your Little Brother?
It really is like having a little brother that you look out for. We joke around like siblings would and sometimes are able to offer him advice on things that he may be having trouble with. For Dev, it feels like he views us somewhere in between his peers and the other adults in his life. Sometimes we can talk about things that he might be embarrassed to talk about with his friends or afraid to talk about with someone that he views as an authority figure in his life like his mother or teachers.
Describe the first time you met your Little. How have things changed since then?
We met Dev in the BBBST office with his mother and our match support specialist. Honestly, it was a little forced and awkward. But once we started hanging out and doing activities together, that went away pretty quickly. Watching the goofy kid that we met those years ago turn into a young man has been really rewarding. He still has the heart of gold that he had back then, but is maturing into a person who understands what is happening in the world around him as he finds his place in it.
What do you think your Little has learned from you?
Through having new and different experiences with us, I think that Dev better understands that he is capable of doing anything that he wants to with his life as long as he is willing to put the work in to make that a reality. Doing challenging things together has really given him the confidence that even if he isn’t great at something the first time he tries it that he can improve with practice, and that this improvement is enjoyable in itself.
How has your Little Brother impacted your life?
We have gotten really close over the last few years. It’s almost like having a new member of your family. We are excited when good things happen in his life, worry about how he’s doing in school or who he’s hanging out with. It’s been a really rewarding and enriching experience in our lives. It’s not just that we are friends to him, it’s also that he has become a friend to us.
How do you balance the commitment of being a Big with your other commitments?
Sometimes our weekends can get busy and that can be tough, but we always try to make Dev a priority. When we are planning activities, we will try to shift around other plans that we have to find a time that works. Sometimes, if we are both busy over a few weekends, we’ll just get together during the week and have dinner. While it’s ideal to spend a few hours together, what’s most important is staying in touch and having frequent contact with each other.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a Big?
If someone is thinking about becoming a Big, it is important that they understand that the time commitment is not trivial. However, the time that you end up investing with your Little will pay you back in ways that you never expected, and the relationship that you build makes it all worthwhile. At the end of the day, all you have to do is be a young person’s friend, and this is something that anyone can do.
Please share a favorite memory from your match.
Our favorite memories really have to do with the relationship that we’ve built with Dev not only as a couple, but also as individuals.
Jamie is a scientist, and often enjoys pointing out interesting facts about some thing or topic of conversation. Dev usually enjoys these small, fun “learning experiences,” but occasionally comes out with a joking eye-roll and a, “Here comes Jamie to teach us about science again…”
Sometimes, to Jamie it must seem like she’s spending her time with two teenagers instead of one. Ian and Dev will often joke around to try and get a rise out of each other. One afternoon, every time Ian left the room, he came back wearing a different hat. When Dev made a comment about it, Ian pretended that he had no idea what he was talking about. While Dev acted exasperated, it was obvious that he was really enjoying it.
Tags: big Brother, Big Brothers Big Sisters, big brothers big sisters of tucson, Big Couple, community service, Little Brother, mentoring, mentoring Tucson, southern Arizona, Tucson, volunteer, youth mentoring, youth outcomes