When one line connects to another, and another, something beautiful happens. Individual marks and strokes, when matched carefully together, create an incredible work of art. At least, that’s how Little Brother Robert sees it. Robert is an artist. His imagination pours out onto paper when he draws. When he is creating art, he feels comfortable and in control. Big Brother Ryan discovered that and used art to get to know his Little Brother.
Because of donors like you, Big Brothers Big Sisters is able to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Little Brother Robert is part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Oliver Hill Mentoring Program. Oliver Hill was a prominent African American attorney who fought for equitable pay for minority teachers in the Brown vs. Board of Education case. Robert was in 3rd grade when he was matched with Ryan in January 2014. Big Brother Ryan is a police officer and detective for Roanoke City, which is a pivotal reason he decided to become a Big Brother.
“I became a police officer because I wanted to help the community, but I knew that wasn’t enough to make a true impact. That’s why I decided to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters.” Ryan is from the community, so he has a vested interest in seeing the children here succeed, especially his Little Brother, Robert.
When Big Brother Ryan and Little Brother Robert were first matched, Robert was quiet and shy. Of course, it didn’t take long for him to open up to his Big Brother. During the first few months of their friendship, Ryan and Robert spent time building trust. One way they did that was through drawing. “When we draw together, it really gets Robert into his comfort zone. Then we are really able to open up to each other and have good conversations,” Ryan said. Soon, they learned that they had more in common than they thought. Robert and Ryan both have similar senses of humor, and it shows. Most of the time they spend together, they are laughing with one another.
Every minute Robert and Ryan spend together, they are developing a relationship built on trust. As they complete a STEM project, Robert is confiding in Ryan about his troubles at school. With every football pass, they are fostering a strong relationship built on shared interests. Each stroke of their colored pencils or markers brings with it a promise that Robert can depend on his Big Brother. Robert says that if he never met his Big Brother, he would probably get in a lot of trouble at school. Little Brother Robert knows that Ryan cares about his behavior, and Robert wants to make his Big Brother proud. Ryan often tells Robert, “We are brothers now. I will always be there for you, and I know you will always be there for me.” Because you support Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ryan makes an incredible impact on his Little Brother’s life.
As time has passed, Little Brother Robert’s family adopted Big Brother Ryan into the family. Robert’s mother, Malinda, sees the amazing impact Ryan has had on her son’s life, and she welcomes Ryan with open arms. “Ryan has been there for us when there was no one else,” she says.
This is not a story about race, gender, or occupation. Ryan and Robert’s story is one of people who care deeply about each other. When Big Brothers Big Sisters matches a child with a caring adult, the individual lines of their lives are woven together to create a strong and powerful piece of art. Ryan, Robert, and their families’ lives have been changed because Big Brothers Big Sisters was there to bring them together.
You are an important piece of this work of art! Our donors provide the resources necessary to create and sustain these life-changing mentoring relationships. Will you change the lives of other families in Southwest Virginia? While we served 403 children with caring adult mentors in 2015, there are more than 100 children waiting for the same opportunity. Help us provide Big Brothers and Big Sisters to those kids. You have the power to create another strong mentoring relationship in this community.