I don’t like to be on the boards. Having made a lot of management decisions to run my own business, I am not wired for group decisions. But I think it’s important to give back to the community and becoming a big Jewish brother seemed like a good fit for me. My wife thinks I’m a kid anyway and my emails say, “Kid from the Bronx,” even though I’m almost 74 now.
I was 61 when I became Big Brother. Things had not started so well. The social worker asked me what age group I wanted and always confident — no matter if I deserved to be — I said, “I’m good with kids; I can handle any age. They assigned me a 7 year old boy. When I first met the social worker, the boy and his mother, the social worker went over some of the rules as we sat around a table. As the social worker was explaining how important it was that there was no physical contact between us, the boy slipped under the table and started to grab onto my thigh. “OK,” I said, “that makes sense, but what about situations like now? I motioned for them to look under the table.
For our first meeting alone, we decided to go to a park and throw a baseball. I hadn’t played in decades, but found an old glove and as I take pride in my athletic ability, I feel like it would be a good bonding experience: two kids who love sports in throwing the old ball. I had broken Jeffrey “Kockerooni” Kaufman’s tooth with a ball on the ground which made a bad jump when I was 11, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt my little brother on our first outing. The 7-year-old turned out to be a pitcher in his little league team. Even with my glove on, his throws stung my hand. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that several blood vessels in my fingers had ruptured. Maybe I wasn’t the athlete I was anymore? Maybe I should have been more selective about the appropriate age for my brother?
The truth is, being a Big Brother has its ups and downs, but the rewards are plentiful. Most of our outings were to play sports, but we also went to museums and saw some great musicals and Red Sox games with tickets provided by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the end, what I hoped to gain from the experience that I have received several times.
For 12 years I was a big brother watching a hung little boy grow up to be a big, good man who is now in college. Do I feel good about my role in this transformation? I do. Most of the credit goes to his mother, who, without a partner or a lot of money, raised an adopted son with love and good values. However, I feel that the little I brought meant something. I feel like I have had a positive impact on a person’s life. It might not have the weight of being a board member of an organization that helps a lot of people, but it still feels like tikkun olam tome.
Jewish sages throughout history have spoken of loving kindness and of reaching out to others. Becoming a Jewish big brother allows you to do this while playing tennis, baseball, and table tennis and building snow forts, biking and kayaking, playing golf, and playing golf games. arcade and listening to Annie sing: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow.” You are still one day away.
I’m essentially selfish, so if I can do a mitzvah and have fun in the process and make a difference in a person’s life, I’m okay with that.
Learn more about how JBBBS is changing lives here. Apply to become a volunteer here!
This message was provided by a third party. Opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and JewishBoston assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.