For Nelson man Tim Cross, the best thing about becoming a “Big Brother” mentor has been making a friend for life.
He and his “match” Jordan, 16, are now moving into their tenth year of friendship, thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters Nelson Tasman.
“My journey with Jordan began on the day of his seventh birthday.
This lively young boy was only just up to my waist, had no front teeth and could barely reach the pedals on his first two-wheeler bicycle,” says Tim.
“Nine years later we are still together, and he is now almost as tall as me, shaves daily and has asked me to teach him to drive a car.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters has been providing mentoring friendships to children in need of additional adult support for 22 years.
But with 55 children on their waiting list, they are in dire need of more mentors.
Just one hour per week is required, where pairs can kick a ball around, play games or go for a walk on the beach.
Tim says it has been a “hugely rewarding” time in his life and encourages others to give it a go.
“Nine years is a long time and Jordan has grown so much in so many ways in the time we have had together. He has become a very active young man who is involved with many community activities and he has a very positive outlook on life.
“The change from the young and shy, socially awkward and reticent seven-year-old to the now confident and focussed young man has been a delight to watch, and a pleasure for me to realise I have had a positive change in his life.”
Tim says he has received so much back in return.
“This has been a real bonus for me.”
Programme director Chelsea Routhan says they would especially love to get more male mentors on board.
“We have a lot of young boys on our list, aged from six to 12 years. It’s very rewarding with nearly 100 per cent of our mentors saying they would recommend it to a friend.
“You don’t have to change your life to change theirs.”