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My Journey from “Little” Brother to “Big”

By Jared R.

January is National Mentoring Month. 

When I was 6 months old, my father was brutally murdered. Growing up fatherless was something that I had noticed, but never really had any concern about. I had never really known my father, so not having one was not a big deal to me at the time. My mom spoiled me rotten, and spent every possible moment with me.

When I was 6, my mom decided I needed some male influence in my life, and she reached out to the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program. That’s when my big brother Seth came into my life. From the moment I saw him, and we played super mario brothers on the couch, I knew that we would become fast friends.

At first, I had some doubts. The concept of an adult that wasn’t a parent or a relative was strange in the beginning. Even my babysitters and camp counselors were really kids too, just older.  But I would come to find out that’s what Seth was. When I was with him, I felt that I could trust him. He was like a friend that could drive a car. We played sports, did fun activities, and even looked at girls together, haha. He was someone special whom I really enjoyed spending time with, and I would look forward to coming home from school to see him.

Throughout the years, Seth and I stayed close, and we are still good friends to this day.  I have known Seth for nearly 30 years now, which sounds like a long time, but man did it sure go by quick. Seth made such a beautiful impact in my life that as soon as I was old enough to become a Big Brother, I reached out to Jewish Community Services to see how I could do so. About a year ago I was matched with my little brother.  He’s a wonderful little kid who beats to his own drum, and I really respect that. We have had a great experience so far, and hopefully will continue to do so.

Being a Big Brother/Big Sister is more than an unpaid, glorified babysitter. A lot of Littles are in their early teens. Being a Big Brother is about being around to talk, to hang out, have fun, and remove some stress from a child’s life that may otherwise be not so easy. It is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I will continue to do it until I am no longer needed.  Hopefully my “Little” and I will develop a relationship similar to the one Seth and I still have today. We are not replacing fathers; we are building strong relationships to help create happy, well-adjusted kids. It is one of the most fun and entertaining types of community service anyone could ever hope to do, and I would strongly recommend people who are on the fence to take the leap.

–  Jared R was part of the Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Program as both a “Little” and a “Big,” offering a unique perspective on how this program changes lives forever.

Right now, there are children in our community who need a special friend and mentor.  If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister through Jewish Community Services, please call 410-466-9200 or click here.  Getting together with your “Little” twice a month is all it takes, and JCS provides training and support.

Jewish Community Services (JCS) provides programs and services for people of all ages and backgrounds, helping them achieve their goals, enhance their wellbeing, and maximize their independence. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.

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