Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about mentorship and helping children find the role-models they need. One local match proves it is about more than that, it is about friendship as well.
Little Brother Mike Hindman and his Big Brother Pat Eeles have been strong friends since they were matched about three and a half years ago. Mike said the program gave him something that he couldn’t get at home.
“It’s the chance to hang out with a boy and have fun,” said Mike.
Mike, 11, is the only boy in his family. He has two older sisters and three younger sisters still at home. Even his dog is a girl, he said. While he likes spending time with his family, he wants to be able to spend time with a guy every now and then.
Nicole Hindman, Mike’s mother, said that Mike’s father is not involved in his life and as a single mother with three girls, it is difficult for her to give Mike one-on-one time.
She said she thought it was very important for Mike to have some more male influence in his life.
“As a mother, I don’t understand a whole lot about ‘the guy thing,’” said Nicole.
She added that she thinks Mike’s match is good for Eeles’ too, as all Eeles’ children are daughters.
Eeles said he decided to become a Big Brother through the encouragement of his daughter who is a social worker and had worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past. Now that his own children are grown up, Eeles decided he had the time to mentor another child and “Took the plunge” to sign up with BBBS.
Nicole said the friendship between Eeles and her son took strong roots from when they first met.
“Right off the bat, the took to each other,” said Nicole. “They have been close ever since.”
Mike said that he liked Eeles when he first met him through the program. He said he felt drawn to his new Big Brother because the two of them seemed to have a lot of things in common.
“We do lots of different stuff together,” said Mike. Mike and Eeles meet every Monday evening to spend a few hours together. Eeles said the pair participates in all kinds of activities from puzzling to fishing.
Sports is one big interest the pair has in common and Eeles said they have enjoyed going to all kinds of games to see all kinds of teams play together including the Edmonton Eskimos and Red Deer Rebels.
Eeles joked with Mike that the Rebels should give them season tickets as they have never lost when the two friends were at a game.
Eeles said he and Mike trust each other greatly and have gotten to know each other better over the years. Nicole added their relationship has been fairly strong right since day one.
Both Mike and Eeles said they treat each other like family.
On one outing to Calgary, Mike even met Eeles’ brother and parents, which was a special time for both of them.
“It was fun,” said Mike. He added that it really made him feel included in his Big Brother’s life.
Eeles said he has noticed how strong a bond Mike has developed not only with him, but with his wife and the rest of Eeles’ family.
It’s an aspect of their relationship that Eeles reciprocates.
“I treat Mike like I would my own child,” said Eeles. “He’s part of the family.”
It’s a relationship that gives both ways. Eeles said he got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters in an effort to give back to someone. What he found was not quite what he expected.
“You get back more than you give,” said Eeles.
For Mike, the friendship with Eeles allows him to have some much-desired “Guy-time.”
In addition to the assigned guy time on Monday night, Eeles and Mike have been known to spontaneously get together on occasion as well.
Eeles will call Mike the night of if he happens upon tickets to a sports event and Mike also invites Eeles to school functions and other such events.
“I never thought I would go to another Grade 3 Christmas Concert again,” said Eeles.
According to their web site, for nearly 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs. One-to-one and group programs, for both in school and outside of school.
Serving as role models, mentors teach by example the importance of giving and giving back, of staying in school, and of having respect for family, peers and community.