DERBY, Kansas – Big Brothers Big Sisters is best known for one to one mentoring, but there are major benefits of a family match. 19-year-old A.J. will attest. He’s been enjoying dinner with the Hatridge family for years.
“We do this every single time I come here,” he says.
There’s so much to talk about around this table: 11 years of memories including family vacations, the holidays and the birth of Brian and Bee’s kids.
“We saw him grow from being a child to a young man,” Bee tells us, “so that’s pretty special.”
“I’m the first person in my house to graduate, and I do say that’s because of them,” A.J. adds.
Their match officially ended when A.J. headed off to college, but the dinners continue and so does the friendship.
“It’s not going to end,” A.J. promises. “I love these people to death.”
And now he has one more reason to spend time with what he calls his second family. A.J.’s little sister, Gabby, has become the Hatridges’ Little Sister, too.
“His life was very exciting,” she recalls, ” and he would always bring me back things when he would go places.”
“She’ll probably need some help, too,” A.J. says. “They got me through school and they can get Gabby through school because she’s really smart.”
And so this family continues to grow and get stronger, and in a lot of ways, the Littles have also become the Bigs to the Hatridge boys.
“We’ve morphed from us being role models,” Bee says, “to having role models which is pretty amazing.”
Even A.J. talks about one day becoming a Big himself. It’s an ideal match: one that exemplifies the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“To see those seeds that you plant grow and grow into these magnificent people, and to know you were a part of that,” Bee reflects, “I don’t know if I could imagine anything better.”
If you’d like more information on becoming a Big call 1-888-KS4-BIGS or go to www.kansasbigs.org.