Giving our time and companionship can have an incredible impact on someone’s life. Such is the case with the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of The Village program, which provides role models for youth by matching them with mentors in the community.
Josh Andres became involved in BBBS during college. Stemming from a
desire to do something more with his time outside of his studies and in the community, Josh was referred to BBBS by a friend. Since the volunteer program only asks for a one-year commitment, Josh figured he’d give it a go.
Josh was paired with Welsere eight years ago by BBBS. Welsere, then seven years old, was in second grade. They would meet every week at school, either during lunch or after school. Once Welsere passed that fifth-grade mark, he graduated into the community-based program, so the two would meet for a couple of hours two to three times a month outside of school.
“I found out that was easily the best part of my days, and my weeks and my years. History has shown that I’ve stayed much much longer than one year,” Josh said.
BBBS matches Little Brothers and Little Sisters with mentors in the Fargo- Moorhead community to form safe, caring friendships. Littles come from all different backgrounds and range in age from six to teenagers. The programming of BBBS is designed to create positive, measurable outcomes for youth, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships.
You’ll get more out of it than you ever anticipated. I made a friend with someone that I hope I’m at his graduation or if he gets a flat tire I hope he knows he can call me. This is a relationship that I never thought would have happened.Josh Andres, Big Brothers Big Sisters Volunteer
BBBS employs a thorough matching process to bring together Bigs and Littles with similar personalities to foster a strong and natural friendship. After getting past the initial nervousness of their first meetings, the two hit it off. Since Josh and Welsere were first paired eight years ago they’ve been able to watch each other grow as individuals.
“When I was younger I used to be, like, a real bad kid,” Welsere said. “If I didn’t meet Josh I would still be that kid.”
“Welsere has gone from needing a lot of support at school and not doing well to now passing classes and caring about school,” Josh said. “We talked about plans after high school and what that looks like and I’m just so proud of the growth he’s made. I’ve been able to see that for so long, his ability to think about complex questions and ask real life stuff.”
“Back then we just talked about my day,” Welsere said. “Now we just talk about personal things and stuff.”
BBBS has positioned itself as an important resource for youth in the Fargo-Moorhead community. It not only provides mentorship and emotional support, but also serves as a bridging tool across generations.
For Josh, it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to watch Welsere grow up and provide him with the resources to become his best self.
“Our conversations have gone from typical second-grade conversations, as he’s becoming an adult our conversations have changed a lot over the years too,” Josh said. “I think that’s really cool. I’m not working with a second grader for eight years, I’m working with a growing person and it’s wonderful to see that growth.”
The two have made many special memories together, from winning a Halloween costume contest at the Fargo Theatre to trips to Valleyfair and Detroit Lakes, and sharing a Haitian meal cooked by Welsere’s mother. Through all of these fun experiences, Josh was making an impact on his Little Brother’s life.
The role of a Big Brother or Big Sister can extend past just offering support and stability to a Little, it also includes showing the Little their own potential, introducing them to new experiences and showing them the limitless possibilities available to them in the world.
“This is really why I stay in the program too,” Josh said. “When you build such a connection, I want to show him those experiences I really enjoy.”
The opportunity to bring out the potential in a child is available to everyone. There are many children in the community eager for the mentorship and companionship that anyone can provide. This small investment of time can make a real and significant change in someone else’s life.
“You’ll get more out of it than you ever anticipated,” Josh said. “I made a
friend with someone that I hope I’m at his graduation or if he gets a flat tire I hope he knows he can call me. This is a relationship that I never thought would have happened. Along the way, Big Brothers Big Sisters is such a support too.”
Anyone that is over 18 years of age and interested in becoming a Big Brother
or Big Sister can apply on The Village Family Service Center’s website.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Village Family Service Center
1201 25th St. S. Fargo, ND 58103