Big Brothers Big Sisters, one of this year’s beneficiaries of the annual Goodfellows Christmas gift program, attempts to influence children year-round.
One of this year’s volunteers, Shawn Vinson, is helping a teenager by giving him time in the context of family.
“I’ve brought him around my family and some of my colleagues, and just talked about everyday choices in life. I’m actually going to pick him up and take him to see my work environment as well,” he said.
Vinson is filling in for a void left by the absence of parents for the 15-year-0ld for whom he is serving as an older brother.
“When I first met him, he was very shy, didn’t make eye contact a lot. Very meek. Since we’ve been together, he’s opened up a lot, he’s more social and outgoing with people he doesn’t know, people I introduce him to.”
Vinson said, “His grades have improved, mainly because he knows that we can’t get together and go to events and stuff like that if his grades are low — his grandmother won’t allow him to do it, which is great.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization requires its volunteers to spend an hour a week for a year with the individual being mentored.
In Vinson’s case, it’s more:
“When we get together, it’s a lot longer than an hour,” he said recently. “Saturday, I picked him up about 10 a.m., and we went to my son’s basketball game — he’s five. I brought him to my son’s basketball game, and it’s kind of funny, as I mentor him, he kind of mentors my son, giving him pointers on basketball.
“He hangs out with my family. So, we spent from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — eight hours.”