Big Brother Michael has been matched with his Little Brother Jonah for over seven years. At first, Jonah was a very quiet kid and struggled with self-esteem issues. Michael is a Physical Education teacher and helped to instill more confidence in Jonah by involving him in sports – in particular, basketball. Throughout their match, they have met regularly, at least twice a month, and would go to parks to play sports, go to sporting events, or attend BBBS events.
A few years into their match Jonah was bullied at his school and Michael decided to talk with the principal of the private school where he teaches to see if he could get a scholarship for Jonah to attend. Michael’s perseverance in making this happen worked and the principal agreed to a scholarship so Jonah could attend the private school. Jonah remained at that school for two years and thrived. During that time Michael drove Jonah to and from school with him on his way to work, while still going on outings with him every other weekend.
At the new school, Jonah’s grades increased and his self-confidence did too. By eighth grade, Michael and Jonah’s grandmother and aunt encouraged him to apply to an advanced technology magnet program at a local high school and Jonah was accepted! But things were tough that first year, and though Michael worked on school projects with Jonah, and his grandmother got him tutoring, he was dropped from the magnet program. This was devastating for Jonah, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, but also a good learning experience. Michael continued to encourage Jonah to still keep doing his best, and Jonah has remained at the high school where he takes higher-level classes now as a 10th grader.
Michael and Jonah continue to get out regularly, where their outings usually gravitate to going to the YMCA most Saturdays to work out (Jonah’s choice) and then shoot some hoops afterward. Michael still continues to help Jonah with school projects periodically, but they do other fun things like the movies. They even attended Jonah’s friend’s Bar mitzvah, when Jonah asked if Michael would take him! Their Match Support Specialist recently asked Jonah to tell her something that his Big Brother has taught him, and he said: “He’s taught me to always stand up for myself, and if people talk mean, just take it and know that they’re jealous and this makes you stronger as a person.”
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