The Gift That Keeps on Giving
What will he look like? What will we do? Will he like me? These were just a few of the millions of questions that raced through my mind as my stomach did somersaults that eventful day 23 years ago. I had recently turned 8 years-old and little did I know that I was about to receive the best belated birthday gift I could ever ask for. As I anxiously walked into the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in my hometown of Brandon, Manitoba cowering behind my mom I was greeted by a handshake and an enthusiastic grin that I would become quite familiar with in the years to follow. “Kevin, this is your new Big Brother, Stan.” These grand words were spoken and so began the journey with my new friend and mentor that would change my life forever.
The years that followed were filled with new adventures, activities, and experiences with Stan that I would need hours and many pages to list them all. Some of my fondest memories include going to my very first NHL game to see the “Great One”, Wayne Gretzky and the L.A. Kings play the Winnipeg Jets, building a go-cart together and then racing it at a go-cart derby, and getting to proudly show Stan off to all my friends at my ninth birthday party. In my adult life I have been honoured and blessed to still have Stan involved in my life. In fact, this past year we went on a 3-day canoe trip to commemorate our very first canoe trip together almost 30 years ago.
Stan has been so much more than a friend and an activity partner to me, though. He has also been a huge source of inspiration for me throughout my life and has always modeled and encouraged a healthy and balance lifestyle. My relationship and experiences with Stan have directly impacted my decision to give back to my community in a variety of ways, such as becoming a Big Brother myself, getting a Social Work degree, and working for the organization that I admire and believe in so much, Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Thanks to Stan I have been able to share my insight of what it takes to be an amazing mentor with my wonderful volunteers as a Caseworker at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg over the past five years. My stories inspire them and help them gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the contributions they make to the lives of their Littles. I assure them that they are making a difference and that, at age 38, I am still realizing many different ways that my Big Brother has impacted my life. I know that I will never be able to truly express all of the gratitude that I feel for having such an incredible Big Brother, so I guess I will just take it one thank you at a time. Thanks Stan!
Kevin A., Former Little, Big, and now Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg’s Manager of Community Based Programs 2019