Troy's Take: Make a Difference Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod

Troy ClarksonAmy Rader Photographer - Troy Clarkson

Every child needs a role model. 

In today’s information-soaked society, some, perhaps many, come from less than stellar sources. When our kids know more about Miley Cyrus than they do about Millard Fillmore, it’s clear that more positive influences are both welcome and important.

I was very fortunate to have many positive influences in my young life. After I lost my father at 13, a bevy of men stepped forth and helped mold a shattered young teen into a cheerful, motivated, and engaged young man. From my loving and continuously supportive brother K.C., to my ever-present Uncle Craig, to my Boy Scout leader Bob Sylvia, several men, without fanfare, made it part of their regular routines to check in and make sure that I was doing okay. A few years later, my mom met a prince of a man who would later become my stepdad. Phil remains one of my best friends and a positive influence in my life.

My building blocks for success in life were placed in front of me by loving and caring men who taught me core values, showed me the importance of hard work, and demonstrated how to live a life of purpose.

My story is one of joy and success. My story is one where people took time from their own lives and challenges to help improve the life of another. My story could have easily been written very differently.

For more than 150 young men in Falmouth and on Cape Cod, that story is recurring on a regular basis through the support and generosity of men similar to K.C., Uncle Craig, Phil, and Bob. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod have matched dozens of young men with mentors and friends who spend just a few hours every month with their “little brother,” providing support, friendship, guidance, and, yes, a positive role model. 

The moniker of role model can be intimidating. According to Mikaela Toni of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod, it simply means being a positive presence in the life of a young man. With a shortage of male volunteers in Falmouth, many boys—our fellow citizens—are waiting for that presence.

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The unrelenting issues of peer pressure, bullying, substance abuse, and the challenge of just building a future a day at a time, when met with the opportunity to have someone to make dinner with, to see a movie, to ride a bike with, or to visit a museum, can make a priceless difference in a young life and help place building blocks that lead to a brighter future—just by that someone being present and available. “You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be you,” noted Mikaela when we chatted recently about the multitude of Falmouth boys, ages 7 through 12, who just need someone to hang out with and share a day or two.

Volunteers are needed from all backgrounds and life experiences. The requested commitment to the future of a young Falmouthite is just twice a month for a couple of hours each time. The true pledge is just the commitment to be a consistent presence in the life of a young man who needs just that. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers guidance, support, ideas, and even discounted tickets to museums and other venues. They ask for a one-year commitment.  Volunteers get a lifetime of memories. Mikaela is standing by at mtoni@bbbscci.org to match tomorrow’s successes and memories.

During those formative years, when my role models were making such a positive impact on my life, a neighbor came by the house a few times, just to say hello and spend some time. We went to lunch, took a few walks, and just chatted about life. I thought he was just another kind and generous man helping out in our time of need. Actually, he was. Leo was kind and generous. He was also a Big Brother volunteer. More than 30 years later, I remember his benevolence and simple but powerful efforts to make a difference. 

Falmouth is in need of more men like Leo. Are you present and available?

Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at votetroy99@aol.com and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59. To read more of his columns click here

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