Before becoming a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kevin Crilley’s post-college life had everything most people wish for.
He had great roommates, a steady job in the aerospace industry and was happy with his decision to make the move to Orange County after being born and raised in Long Island, New York.
However, Kevin still recognized there was room to grow. He began to search for ways to make a difference in his new community.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County stood out to him right away. He was always familiar with the youth mentoring nonprofit, and with his recent move it was finally the right time to get involved. After learning more about the impact Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors had on local youth, he decided to sign up for a volunteer orientation and never looked back.
“I figured I should do something to help the world and this was a really good way to accomplish that,” Kevin said. “It allowed me to make a positive change where I could actually see tangible evidence of my efforts, instead of just giving money.”
Kevin and his Little Brother, David, were matched on Jan. 5, 2017.
A Sense of Camaraderie
David’s grandparents were looking for a mentor who could expose their grandson to new experiences and be someone he could confide in. They needed a Big Brother who was understanding, patient and willing to help David become more social.
From the very onset of their match, Kevin and 14-year-old David enjoyed a rare sense of camaraderie. On their first outing together, they went hiking and stopped by Taco Bell afterward for lunch.
“We’ve been really close for a long time at this point,” Kevin said. “Our friendship started off good and continues getting better and better.”
Their go-to activities now include playing video games, getting ramen, going to the movies and devouring chicken wings.
Often, their most memorable outings together take place when they don’t have anything special planned.
“My favorite memory with David probably sounds like a really mundane one. I picked him up on a Friday afternoon after school and did all the usual stuff we do—video games, ramen, frozen yogurt, board games and a little bit of music,” Kevin said. “We wound up having so much fun together that I didn’t even realize six hours had passed and it was already 10 at night. It’s nights like that where you truly realize the impact you are having on a kid’s life.”
Embracing the Mentorship Role
One aspect of David’s life that Kevin hopes to continue seeing improvement in are his social skills. Kevin has made it a point to bring David to as many match events as he can in order to introduce him to other kids his age.
“I definitely try to teach him the importance of self-confidence,” Kevin said. “I want to inspire belief in himself so that he can come out of his shell in class because he is such a cool kid.”
As an active member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters recruitment committee, Kevin now embraces the challenge of inspiring others to take the next step and volunteer.
“I just tell them it’s really fun. You get a best friend who loves you for who you are,” Kevin said. “You have a unique opportunity to make a difference in a kid’s life, and in the process, change your life for the better as well.”
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