Match of the Month Rick and Jack
Yavapai Big Brothers/Big Sisters is always looking for people eager to positively impact a child and improve their community at the same time. And right now is no different. Big Brothers are in high demand. So, Start Something... something big!
For a few hours a couple of times a month, you can give a Little the invaluable gift of your friendship. By simply changing their perspective of what the world can offer, you can literally start changing their lives. And sometimes it's as simple as going hiking, playing catch, or just hanging out together. Yavapai Big Brothers/Big Sisters works.
After five years as part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, Rick Jirsa says he is still learning from, as well as about, his Little Brother, Jake.
"Jake's been my 'Little' since he was five. We've developed a good bond and I feel like I'm part of his family. My kids are grown and out of the house, so it's nice to have a kid to do things with again."Rick said he has reached the age where he wanted to find a way to give back to his community, leading the way for a young boy at the same time. Big Brothers/Big Sisters provided that opportunity.
"It's a positive way to give back to the community and help a child. You get to spend time one on one with a child who appreciates what you do. I find that having a personal relationship is much more rewarding than just writing a check to a worthy cause. That relationship with your 'Little' is something you can cherish for a lifetime. It's a rewarding experience for the 'Big' as much as the 'Little.'"
Entering the program at only five years old, Jake needed a caring male role model. He said he is glad Rick took the time to be part of his life.
"I would be struggling in school, and I would have him help me," Jake said. "He's great."
Jake said he and Rick like to attend sports events, including Arizona Sundogs hockey and Diamondbacks baseball.
"When I go and do something with my 'Big,' I come back feeling happy. I also play sports, and Rick comes to the games when he can," Jake said. "He always tries to make time to come to my basketball games and stuff. It feels great to know he makes special time just for me."
Rick said he has noticed the positive growth in Jake over the past five years.
"He's only 10 now, but I've seen a lot of changes from the five-year-old boy. He was quite rambunctious and bouncing off the walls at five," he said. "Now he's very well-behaved and respectful. He's on his way, and I'm really anxious to see him grow and become a young man. I'm glad I can be his Big Brother through that time."
Jake said he is interested in continuing to be part of the program as a Big when he grows up.
"I want to be a 'Big' someday. It's fun...and you can help a kid."
A common misconception is that it takes a lot of time to be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Rick said he doesn't see it that way because usually a "Big" will just take his "Little" with him and do the things he normally does. He said it doesn't have to be a complicated undertaking, and going to a movie or watching a ball game can mean the world to a "Little."
"You don't need a huge time commitment. You spend a few hours and it's quality over quantity."
Rick also said he also gets a break from the workaday world by doing things with Jake.
"Our lives can be stressful. There's always something on your plate. It's great to set a time apart with a child and just do kid stuff. All the other daily stuff kind of goes away, and I return home happier than when I left."