Mentoring Matters: Andre and Ian

Mentoring Matters at Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County.  Take 12-year old Andre.

Andre moved in with his dad when his mom went to jail, leaving his home and friends behind. Andre’s dad is a truck driver and is gone for long periods of time. While his dad is on the road, Andre stays with his step-mom and his new siblings. He did not feel like like a part of the family and he was having difficulty making friends in his new school. Understandably, he missed his mom, his life, and his friends. He changed from being an outgoing, happy kid into a sullen, moody kid. His grades slipped and he no longer enjoyed school.

When he was matched with Big Brother Ian, Ian was concerned he would not be able to “fix” Andre’s problems. The match support specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters assured Ian that he did not need to be an expert to help Andre. So Ian jumped in by teaching Andre to play disc golf, taking him hiking, grilling burgers, and listening when he wanted to talk. As the relationship grew, they realized they both shared a goofy sense of humor, and a love of martial arts movies.

A year later, Andre has acclimated to his new family, and started making friends in his new school. School has become fun and interesting to him again, so his grades have improved. He is again becoming that outgoing, happy kid he had once been. It didn’t take an expert, but just someone to show him that he was worth the time, someone like his Big Brother Ian. As Andre says, “I know my dad loves me, but basically he didn’t have a choice, he had to let me live with him. But Ian doesn’t have to hang out with me, he just does it … ’cause we have fun together. That’s a good feeling that someone is choosing you. So I did it too. I chose some kids to talk to at school and now we’re friends. I chose one teacher to be my favorite and she helped me do better in school. And if I had a chance to choose a Big Brother, I would choose Ian.”

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of both the child and volunteer