BUFFALO, N.Y. — Throughout January, we've put our local chapter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters in the spotlight in honor of National Mentoring Month.
Mentoring is all about forging a special relationship between the mentor and the mentee, but there is another relationship created as well, the one between the mentor and the other important adults in the child's life.
This week Most Buffalo talked to Big Brother Tom, who mentors Little Brother Ricky. Ricky was at school so Most Buffalo talked with his mother, Jamie. She says Tom has had a tremendous impact on Ricky's life.
"He has three sisters and and myself. We live in the same household and Ricky's had some trouble in school for quite some time, and since he's known Tom honestly, the last three years his academics have gone way up, his grades are way better than they used to be," Jamie said.
"He had gone to summer school in middle school for two years and he has not been in summer school for the last two years, and that has really had an impact on him as well as me because I would always worry about how he was doing in school and it would be very stressful for me. It has really helped him with his academics."
Tom has been mentoring Ricky for a little over three years. He says it challenges him to be a better mentor and a better person.
"I've tried to put him in a better position, academically, socially, and just kind of understanding the next steps for him in his life. To say, you know, there's other things outside of high school. You can go to college. You can have a career," Tom said.
"We talk about the next step in that sense, and so it's been really impactful for me where I sit back and say, 'Wow, I hope I'm making an impact in his life.' I know you know, through talking with Jamie that it is working and you know he's becoming a better individual, so it's very exciting to hear."
As for other looking to become mentors, Tom says it can be intimidating, but also very rewarding.
"The biggest fear I had was the process and the steps to go through everything because it was intimidating. Am I going to be good enough to be a mentor for somebody?" he said.
"But realizing that using my past experiences as you know, leaning on my mentors that I've had, knowing that I can give that back for somebody else is the most impactful thing that I can possibly do, and that's kind of what drove me to become a big in the first place. I would recommend everybody just give it a shot. Give it a shot."
Tom doesn't just have a great relationship with Ricky, he also gets along very well with Jamie.
"Tom is a great guy. He's got a great personality. We get along very well. Jamie also encouraged anyone interested in becoming a mentor to just do it. They just need a good influence in their life. We need that extra boost. Go for it. This is a really good program, so beneficial, obviously, to the Big and to the Little. They both get so much out of it."
For more information on becoming a mentor check out the Big Brothers Big Sister of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier's website.