In 2010 Nate was a struggling fifth grader with a quick temper. His mother noticed that he was dealing with anger and depression and was having trouble coping with his father being gone.
Nate’s mother realized he needed a consistent, positive male role model in his life. So, she turned to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, a United Way partner agency.
Jay had worked in sales for many years, but after his own kids were grown, he realized he wanted to give back to his community in a tangible way. He decided to become a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He says his goals were to help improve a child’s relationships, help him do better in school, and figure out how to work through life. “I wanted to mentor a kid to provide some of the same direction I received when I was young,” says Jay.
The two were matched, but Nate was very quiet at first. Jay was patient and soon realized they could connect through sports. Nate loves sports of all kinds. So, Jay played sports with him, took him to sporting events and even went to watch Nate play football. That was the turning point in their relationship.
A couple of years later life started to look up for Nate. His grades improved and he was better able to control his anger. “I’m more calm now. My hot button isn’t near what it used to be,” says Nate. He says his relationship with Jay has changed his outlook. Nate recently graduated from Union High School with honors and plans to play football in college and major in sports marketing.
Jay has also grown through the match. “You think you’ll help your little brother, but it definitely goes both ways,” he says. “Our relationship has opened my eyes to the challenges kids face. I feel like I’m helping, one kid at a time.”