Mentoring: A Way of Life

Chris Fay has a lot to be smiling about. He just landed a new job at DTE Energy, his wife, Renee, is running a newly successful chiropractic practice in the Caledonia area, and he was awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big of the Year Award in August, for his successful match of six years with Little Brother, Ethan.

“Ethan’s the brother I never had growing up,” Chris said.

Chris enrolled in the program as young professional, while he was at Perrigo in Allegan. Chris had interest in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because he wanted to give back in a way that was different. He wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.   

“I always heard about the program but didn’t know a lot about it,” Chris explained. “Once I learned more, I realized it’s not a huge commitment. Make it what you want it to be. Find those common interests and bond over them. Build a relationship. It’s a great time, not a sacrifice.”

In part, Chris was selected for Big of the Year for his dedication to Ethan over the years and many life changes. During their match, Chris met and married his now-wife, he left Perrigo to help start a business with her, and supported his mother through difficult health challenges. Throughout it all, Chris has remained an enthusiastic and consistent Big.

The two brothers still meet nearly every week. They spend time together outdoors, fix dirt bikes, play football, go fishing, and have even have built a chicken coop together. Chris’s wife Renee has become part of the match herself, and attends some of their activities. With Ethan now in middle school and playing football for his second year, Chris attends as many of the weekly games as he can. He continues to be proud of the strides Ethan has made.

“He’s twelve now, but when we first met he was this shy six year old kid.” Chris reminisced. “During our first match meeting he hid behind the curtains because he was nervous. I’ve really watched him come out his shell as our relationship has progressed.”

“I learned who I want to be by hanging out with my Big Brother,” Ethan beamed.

When Chris thinks about Ethan’s future, he’s looking ahead and exploring resources to introduce Ethan to different career pathways and opportunities after graduation. No matter what, they know they’ll stay in touch forever.

If you’re thinking about becoming a mentor, Chris says, “Go for it! It doesn’t feel like work, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Chris and Ethan have become a prime example of what every successful match looks like. A relationship that is fun, and caring, and most importantly: a way of life.

To learn more about how you can ignite a young person’s potential with just two hours twice a month as a Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple, please click here.

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