Former Little Brother gives back as a Big
By Gabriella Fox with Sonya Bernard-Hollins
Originally printed in Community Voices, reprinted with permission
When Min. Elroy Morris was 12 years old, his single-parent mother knew she needed some male intervention in his life.
“My mother told me she couldn’t help me become a man, so she signed me up for a Big Brother through the Big Brother Big Sister program,” Morris recalled. “I had that mentor until I was 16, and he ‘dropped’ me and started mentoring a younger kid.”
Morris said he enjoyed the time he spent with his Big Brother, and wished the relationship could have continued. Now that his own children are grown, he has decided to give back to the program as a Big Brother.
“I take my Little Brother to play basketball, and talk to him about life and the importance of believing in himself when nobody else does. I want to teach him to play chess, because that game is an example of life, and how you always need to plan ‘your moves,’ ” Morris said.
More importantly, Morris has committed to be in his Little Brothers life, for life.
According to Cindy Schrauben, communications manager of the organization, “Children who are matched with a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters are proven to be more likely to achieve in school, avoid risky and delinquent behaviors, and have higher self-confidence and aspirations.”
Schrauben said the agency served approximately 1,250 children in 2011, and is committed to continue the growth of the organization which serves children ages 5 to 17.
Each mentor is expected to have a one-year commitment to their “Little” to maintain a stable relationship. Mentors come in the form of community-based, school-based, or site-based mentors.
While Morris is a good example of a male, giving back through mentoring, the agency is in need for more men, and more men of color to satisfy the need of the many young men on the waiting list for a Big Brother.
Morris said taking a few hours out of his week to be there for a young man, is something that was done for him. He feels more men, particularly in the church, should take time out to be a Big Brother.“My Little Brother said he wanted to be a zookeeper,” said Morris who is a licensed minister at Emmanuel Temple International Church in Battle Creek. “I told him we will check into seeing about volunteering at the zoo to see if that’s something he wants to do. Just being there to help boys find their way is important.”