(Please note that this is revised version of an older column, but one that holds a lot of value, in my opinion. I am still “matched” with both my “little brother” and mentor the young man with the genetic illness. I can say it’s not easy, either of these relationships, but I know it’s making a difference in their lives. It also costs me some money, but it’s my way of giving charity rather than writing a check to an organization)
One of the clichés about volunteerism is that “you get more than you give.” In my case, it was true in ways and means I least expected. I’ve just become a Big Brother and mentor, again, to a 7-year-old boy and a mentor to a 23-year-old young man. As these relationships are new, I don’t yet know what lessons I will learn. But I know well the lessons I learned the first time around.
I became a Big Brother long before I was married or a parent. My life, at that time, was pretty heady. In my early 30s, I had a successful showbiz career in which I was paid way too much for having so much fun. I lived in a lovely home in a chic part of town, had two cars, and no one to worry about other than myself.