A Path to Success: Finding Potential From A Big Brother
Change Maker Sponsor - United Way of Greater Toledo

A Path to Success: Finding Potential From A Big Brother

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.

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Three years ago, I was really struggling, feeling unmotivated and honestly…I felt worthless. In addition to my school studies, I was responsible for taking care of my aging and disabled grandmother, who suffered from heart disease and COPD.

There was so much on my plate. I was just 16 years old and all I wanted to do was quit school and focus on other things.

My grandmother, now confined to a wheelchair, had raised me from a very young age. My parents never really played an active role in my life and it was determined that she was the best person to care for me after they experienced some legal issues.

Grandma was my rock. She kept me grounded and made me feel safe and loved. Yet, gradually, her health began to decline, as did her ability to support me in the same way. In fact, our roles started to reverse with every passing year. As I got older, I started skipping class to stay home and take care of her. I also got a job and was able to pick up a few more shifts at work to help pay for her medication.

When I did attend class, I couldn’t stay focused. My grandmother was always on my mind. Day after day I watched my grades start to slip, until it felt like I could no longer keep up.

Looking back, I see that I was starting to dive into depression… I was ready to give up and just quit school altogether.

It was my geography teacher, Mr. Mathis, who first took notice that something was wrong. One day, he asked me to stay behind to talk. At first, I was hesitant. Slowly, however, I began to open up as he shared more of his own story.

I learned Mr. Mathis had also grown up without his parents in his life. He too was raised by a grandparent. He spoke of his feelings of loneliness and how he decided once he got into college, that he wanted to help kids like him.

“One day,” Mr. Mathis explained, “I stumbled across a flyer in a local coffee shop for the ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’. The organization provides children and teenagers with support by introducing them to adults who want to help. Adults who can be both a friend and mentor, and are committed to building strong relationships with those they are connected to. ”

Mr. Mathis paused as he waited for his last words to sink in. He looked me in the eyes and likely noticed a small twinkle of hope arise.

“Maybe, Big Brothers Big Sisters would be something that you could check out?” he continued.

A few days later, Mr. Mathis convinced me to stay after school to meet Trevor. Trevor was outgoing and motivated, with lots of similar interests as me. We hit it off instantly.

We began meeting weekly to hang out, talk or even shoot some hoops. Some afternoons, Trevor would help me with my homework. Gradually I began to catch up on my classes. Trevor helped fill a void that my grandma wasn’t always able to fill, due to her health issues. And slowly, I started feeling better about school and my academics.

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It’s three years later. I look at the pile of books on my desk and take a deep breath. Tomorrow is exam day, and I still have a lot of studying to do. College is so much different than high school. Yet, I had confidence. I felt sure I would get through it. The pending test was nothing compared to the challenges I conquered over the last few years.

I look back often and think how my life has changed because of Trevor.

Over my junior and senior year, among other things, Trevor showed me how to apply for college scholarships. He believed in me. He made me see my potential. For the first time in a long time, with his support, I didn’t feel as depressed. I felt motivated and started to recognize my own value.

A few months before high school graduation, I was awarded a scholarship. At graduation, I proudly walked across the stage with my diploma in hand: Trevor and my grandma were both gleaming with pride.

How far I had come after nearly dropping out of school still amazes me.

There was so much potential ahead. Looking again at the pile of books in front of me, I smiled. I knew, because of Trevor’s support, I was on a path to success.

~

CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support and our strong community partners, like Big Brothers Big Sisters, we continue helping children in need, by providing mentoring and academic guidance. To strengthen our community’s volunteer efforts, please donate below.

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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

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