The strong bond formed between one Big and Little Brother has endured even after the formal relationship ended.
When 12-year-old Colin’s mom re-married, it marked the official end of his time with Big Brother Mark Bergen, a veterinarian. But because of the friendship that has grown between them over their two years together, Mark and Colin still get together a couple of times a month.
“I decided to volunteer because I enjoy working with kids and I knew Big Brothers was a good organization and there were a lot of needy kids out there,” explains Mark, 30. “I wanted to get involved and have some fun.”
Since Mark was married last August and also has a busy veterinary practise, time is at a premium, but he never found it difficult to schedule his weekly outings with Colin because they both enjoyed the time so much.
“When I first got involved I was single and yes, getting married means there are a lot of time demands, but Colin and I still get together fairly frequently,” says Mark. “I have a lot of fun too and we get along well. I look forward to it.”
Their time is spent talking about guy things while playing road hockey, baseball, or a game of pool. A movie or a trip to a mini-golf course also tops the list. And when they want to just hang out, Colin and Mark whip up their favourite feast — homemade pizza.
“We always say we make the best pizza,” says Mark. “We joke that one day we’ll open a pizza place.”
Although he’s not sure which career path Colin will take (it changes almost hourly, Mark jokes) he knows that being involved in his Little Brother’s life has made a difference. That means a great deal to him. He was especially proud to hear Colin had told Big Brothers through a questionnaire that “life is not boring anymore” with Mark around.
“That makes me feel pretty good to know that he enjoys spending time with me,” Mark says. “We do a lot of talking, just hanging out and that kind of thing. His mom has told me that I have made a big difference in his life and that she’s seen a big change in him since we started getting together.”
Although he expects to always be pals with Colin, Mark says he’d like to be matched with a new Little Brother, recognizing that he truly enjoys giving his time to the organization and there is a huge need for volunteers like him. It’s something he’d advise anyone to consider, not only for the great personal rewards, but for the pure fun Big Brothers have with their Little Brothers.
Adds Mark, “I think I’ve gotten as much out of this as Colin has.”