"When I was 14," says David, "my parents divorced. My sister was living with friends and I was pretty much alone. I wished then that I had something in my life like this."
What’s "this"? It’s the special mentoring relationship that grown-up David found four years ago with Flavio, then 12. Like any new match, they approached it with a little bit of hesitation, but David soon learned "you don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be there."
Being there often means finding common interests, and for David and Flavio that’s been easy — they share a passion for outdoor sports, especially baseball. They’ve had fun playing catch and going to batting practice together, and David has enjoyed watching Flavio’s skills improve and his love of the game grow.
They also like going to Red Sox games together, usually at Boston’s Fenway Park. But this summer they got to do something really special. Through the "Step Up to the Plate" promotion, sponsored by Holiday Inn hotels, the "Official Hotel of Major League Baseball," David and Flavio were able to take a trip to Pittsburgh to see Boston’s hometown hero David Ortiz participate in the official "Home Run Derby." What a thrill for both of them … and an experience Flavio will never forget.
Step Up to the Plate is one of many actions being taken this year to help Big Brothers Big Sisters recruit more male mentors. Across the nation, twice as many women as men volunteer, which means at any given moment there are usually more boys and young men waiting for matches than there are girls and young women. Right now we’re looking for men throughout the country to step up to the plate by volunteering just one hour per week. So if you or someone you know has the ability to be a mentor to a child, please volunteer now.
"This has been an awesome experience," says David of the time he spends with Flavio. "We’re talking about a negligible amount of time. We talk on the phone a couple of times each week and get together for an hour or two doing things that we both enjoy. And the truth is that the return is WAY bigger than the investment."