My time as a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer began with lunch at Sonic in August 2005 and officially ended nearly 10 years later with a trip to Washington, D.C.
Unofficially, it hasn’t ended, and I hope it never does. Christopher, who was matched with me as a “Little” at age 8, is now 25 and part of our family. In that time, he has stood in our wedding, been a role model for our son, completed high school, and started a career.
The pandemic has slowed our meetings the last couple of years, but we still chat online and lean on each other. It’s great to have an extra set of hands for projects at the house, and I’m always eager to help with anything Christopher needs.
I can’t think of a better way to impact a young person’s life. Being a “Big” takes time, dedication, and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Christopher has taught me about kindness, compassion, and a deep love for family. As he grew from a boy to a man, I helped him try new things, set goals, and always work hard.
We’d usually get together every other week, for a few hours at a time. Our favorite activity was going to the movies, but we also went fishing, attended Mavericks, Rangers, and Stars games, or just did homework. Kids who benefit from being part of Big Brothers Big Sisters just need to have quality time with someone.
At the start of our match, I told Christopher that when he finished high school, we’d take a trip to any location in the U.S. He chose D.C. and never wavered from it. So, in June 2015, a few weeks after his graduation from W.T. White, we were off to our nation’s capital.
Christopher has taught me about kindness, compassion, and deep love for family.Tom Erickson
We saw museums, memorials, and Arlington National Cemetery. We toured the Supreme Court and the Capitol. We took Ubers, rode the Metro, and walked for miles between stops. It was the end of our time as a match but also the start of a new chapter. And I’m not sure who enjoyed it more.
Right now, there are hundreds of young people waiting for a mentor in the form of a match. There are multiple ways to serve, and you can volunteer by yourself or as a couple. I met my wife about three years into the match, and she has also had a substantial impact on Christopher.
So, my challenge to anyone who likes a challenge is this: Visit bbbstx.org and sign up to be a Big. If that’s too much commitment, donate to sponsor a match. Each Big and Little are supported by a social worker who works tirelessly to ensure the relationship works.
My journey as a mentor started at a Sonic and keeps going like that bunny in the battery commercial. Thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters, it’s a journey I will forever cherish.
Tom Erickson, the husband of digital editor Bethany Erickson, lives in North Dallas and considers himself a Big Brother for life. He works in marketing for a local health provider.