Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BBBS: An Update

Last year, around April, I convinced Stephen that we should volunteer as a Big Couple with Big Brothers Big Sisters. After a very long 7 month wait, we were matched with a Little Brother. After 2 months of trying to make it work, Stephen and I decided (in February) that it actually wasn’t working out and that we had to end the match. Please understand that this is hard for me to write, because I hate giving up on something that was so important to me. I do feel the need to share this here so that you guys can get an update on how things were going (in case you cared), and I find it’s always good therapy to write out your feelings.

Let’s start with a little bit of what was going on in mine and Stephen’s life around the end of November, when we were matched. We were in the process of moving, which came unexpectedly when our landlord decided to give us one month notice that he wanted to sell our townhouse. Stephen was also in the process of trying to switch locations with his job, but ended up being screwed over and was out of a job for a month. So, during the month of December, not only did we have the responsibility of unpacking our house in time to host Christmas dinner, but Stephen also had to job hunt while I was working insanely long hours and often giving up my weekends to work. We needed to make money, and I wanted to pull my weight. December burned both of us out, but we decided to try our hardest to make our match work. You’re supposed to see your Little every week, for 2-5hours/week. We missed two weeks that month, due to the move and Christmas.

January rolled around, and Stephen was back to work. Unfortunately, the only job he could find at the time was at a restaurant that would require 3 hours of travel a day, on top of 8+ hours of work. My work schedule was about the same as it had been since September, but even with that in mind, I work 10 hour days. Despite that, we resolved to continue to do our best with the match.

Around the end of January, Stephen and I both started to realize that maybe the match wasn’t working out so well after all. We had originally said that our best day to meet up is Sundays, which the family agreed to. What we didn’t realize is that they go to church on Sundays (often not getting home until 3pm or later), and that the Mom would suddenly start telling us that too many things were being scheduled on a Sunday and she didn’t want to tire out Little Brother.

By February, Stephen and I had missed two weeks in a row with LB, when we realized that things weren’t working out. We were really struggling to find something in common with LB, as all he wanted to do when we got together was play video games (which isn’t the point of these matches). We did have some fun times outside of our home, but we realized he was only having fun when we were spending money. We couldn’t afford to keep him happy like that each week, and once again, that wasn’t the point of these matches.

Shortly after my birthday, Stephen and I both agreed (after quite a few tears on my part) that it was time to end the match. This was especially hard for me, because I felt like I was giving up. What we didn’t realize when we signed up is that the matching process is quite lengthy. I had been hearing how much of a wait that Little Brothers have, so I assumed that it would be a much quicker matching process. I just wish they had warned us. If we had been matched sooner, things could have worked out better. Stephen and I were working much less at the time, and would have had an easier time adjusting to our new life (with LB, of course) once December rolled around, because we would have had that extra time to form a great bond. I feel like our Little Brother didn’t really need the program. He wasn’t struggling as much as his mother lead us to believe, but if he could benefit at all from BBBS, it would be from a match with a Big Brother.

While this match didn’t work out the way I had anticipated, I’m still glad that we attempted it. I learned a lot about myself, and about Stephen. Once life has settled down again (more life changes coming up soon for Stephen), we may revisit the idea of volunteering again. It’s something that’s important to me (I volunteered all through Jr. High and high school), and I want to make it a part of our lives that we can share with our future family. Who knows what the near future will bring.

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