Live United Pod on Big Brothers Big Sisters presented by Tulsa Area United Way. Our host, Matthew Gleason, chatted with his longtime friend and mentor, Nellie Kelly, about National Mentoring Month. Nellie is a former journalist who serves as the Tulsa area director for Big Brothers Big Sisters Oklahoma.
After Nellie explained her passion for the cause, Matthew turned the hosting duties over to Nellie to interview Tulsa Area United Way’s own Chase Mowery, who is one of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ longest-serving big brothers, also known as Bigs. Chase and his Little, Logan, were matched when Logan was 10 years old. Now Logan is almost 16.
Chase: When we first got matched, I’ll never forget it. The first thing we did was we went out to get some fro-yo. There’s a place over on Brookside. Then we just started walking up and down Brookside. And two things really stuck out to me when I started talking to him. Nellie, you mentioned isolation and individuals around the 61st and Peoria area not being able to get out. Here’s Logan, about 10 years old at that time, and he said, “This is the first time I’ve ever been in this part of town.” It was the first time Logan had ever ventured over to Brookside, which is not far from 61st and Peoria.
Then I was kind of just asking him questions about what his life, you know, what he wanted out of life and what his goals were. And he goes, “Well, I have you now, so I don’t have any concerns.” And that makes your heart melt.
Nellie: What’s your favorite thing to do together?
Chase: Well, at this time, you know, as he’s getting older, we’ve really moved into just kind of living life together. When he comes over, I’ll make dinner. Sometimes he’ll pick out whatever we want to make. We’ll go grocery shopping. Those are just some of those just daily tasks of life that you just have to do. Obviously, when he was 10 and 11, we were going out doing fun activities, like going bowling and going to the park. But now, as he’s getting older and maturing, I feel like our relationship has just morphed and evolved more into this. We just spend time together.
Nellie: I’m glad you said that, too, because that’s something that for the Bigs on my caseload, I encourage them to not focus on activities that cost a lot of money. This is not about spending money. This is about quality time and building a relationship and learning some life skills. It’s about learning things like looking someone in the eye when you talk, and how to shake hands. Sometimes people think, “I’m so busy, I can’t have a little brother or a little sister.” But if you’re going to be trimming hedges or raking leaves, why can’t they learn how to rake the leaves with you? Or if you’re going to be fixing something at home, they would love to learn how to do that.
Chase: Oh, it’s incredible. Logan’s grandpa was a big fixture in his life. He liked mowing, and now Logan likes mowing. When I was renting a house, there were times where the heart of our activity together was just doing yard work because it was something he and I both enjoyed.
Nellie: So what have you gained from your match with Logan?
Chase: Yeah, it’s wonderful. It’s an expanding of horizon to see how other individuals are living. And really one thing that I would attribute this to is both Logan and his grandma and his family all have a joy that they find in living life. It’s just so incredible. They are a family full of love. They are a family full of pride and wanting to do what is best. That’s the one thing I think is really incredible about the program: every family, every child, they want to be there. Logan wanted to be in the program. Logan’s grandma wanted him to be in the program because they knew that there was potential there.
The old saying, it’s cliched, but you know, it takes a village and Big Brothers Big Sisters provides that opportunity for families and individuals that might not have that village.
Nellie: Well, Hey, thank you for being a five-year support for Logan. I appreciate it
Chase: I love it. I couldn’t imagine spending my time doing anything else.
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