“One of the things that first drew me to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization was the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life,” says Brian Hawkes, who recently received the Big Brother of the Year award. “I’ve now been a Big Brother to my Little Brother, Kris, for six years. When I first met him, he was a cute nine-year-old, and now he’s a 15-year-old young man who is starting to think about college. Watching him grow up has been really rewarding. We’ve formed a great friendship.”
Brian met his wife, Lindsay Hawkes, while she was on the organization’s staff as a match support specialist, providing regular consultation to strengthen the matches between Big Brothers and Sisters, and Little Brothers and Sisters. “I always knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Lindsay. “In working for the organization and seeing the difference it made, I always try to encourage and support Brian in maintaining and furthering his relationship with Kris. They are lucky to have each other.”
“Kris and I meet frequently,” says Brian. “We watch movies, go bowling, go to sporting events, and sometimes just hang out and talk.” Brian and Kris also try to participate in the events that Big Brothers Big Sisters organizes. There are fundraising events like Bowl for Kid’s Sake and a walkathon, or holiday parties. “At these events, Kris and I see we are just a small part of a big organization.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America was established in 1904 to provide children who were deemed “troubled” with a mentor who could help them become productive adults. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a preventive organization,” says Lori Konya, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Morris, Bergen, Passaic, & Sussex, Inc. “We succeed at preventing negative behavior that prevents children’s chances of becoming productive adults.”
Research proves that children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely to improve in school and in their relationships with family and friends, and less likely to skip school or use illegal drugs or alcohol.
“Little Brothers and Sisters really love their Big Brothers and Sisters,” adds Lori. “Watching them interact and meeting with them is really satisfying.”
Being involved with the organization added another dimension to Brian and Lindsay’s relationship. “As we got to know each other better, I started to incorporate Lindsay into some of my outings with Kris. Lindsay would come to a movie or go miniature golfing with us, and if Kris came by the house, Lindsay would make us all dinner.” Brian, Lindsay, and Kris became so close that Kris was in the bridal party of Lindsay and Brian’s wedding!
Brian and Lindsay have a deep appreciation for how Big Brothers Big Sisters can change lives. “For this Big Brother,” says Brian, “it also played a huge role in meeting my wife. Who could have possibly thought that becoming a Big Brother would lead me to my wife?”