When we talk to families involved in the Big Buddy programme, one thing always stands out: everyone benefits – the Little Buddy, the Big Buddy and Mum.
Wellington’s Laura Virgo, Mum to Jonathan, has kindly agreed to share what her son’s relationship with his Big Buddy, Kevin Stevens, means to her. Kevin rings his young friend Jonathan every Thursday and they hang out every Sunday. They have been paired up for six years and Jonathan has grown from a playful 7-year-old to a kind and confident 13-year-old who towers over Kevin. Laura and Jonathan now also have an extended family as a result of having Kevin in their lives.
What difference has Kevin made in Jonathan’s life?
I feel it has given him confidence and a definite roadmap for how to be a man. Kevin has taught Jonathan to chop wood, change a tyre, drive a jet ski and other things that are just not in my DNA as a mother. Kevin rings Jonathan every Thursday and sees him every Sunday. Just having a male role model in his life who he can talk to and share ‘blokey’ things with has helped make Jonathan a well-rounded and grounded individual.
Has having a Big Buddy for Jonathan made a difference in your life?
More than I could have possibly imagined. Kevin is one of the good guys of this world and aside from being Jonathan’s Big Buddy, he has become my friend. To be able to share Jonathan’s achievements and disappointments with someone else is hugely helpful. He’s also been lovely about helping me out with practical things that, as a single Mum, I am extremely grateful for. Kevin’s family is also wonderful and we joke that we have adopted each other. Kevin’s daughter and husband live in a granny flat on my property and Kevin’s son, Cameron helps Jonathan train in basketball as they are both passionate about the sport. In fact, Jonathan is going to be a groomsman at Cameron’s wedding as he is considered a “little brother,” Kevin and his wife Liz are two of the nicest people I have ever met and we feel privileged to have them in our lives.
What are your feelings about the Big Buddy programme?
What an absolute Godsend it is! I know Jonathan is a good kid and I could have brought him up on my own and he would have been fine. But my family is so small: Jonathan only has one uncle, aunt and cousin who he gets on with very well but no grandparents, siblings or step-parents. Big Buddy has introduced him to a bigger world with more opportunities to learn and grow and we certainly feel we hit the jackpot when he was matched with Kevin.
Anything special Kevin and Jonathan do together?
Yes! Kevin and Jonathan partner up to do the X-Race, (a parent/child mystery adventure race with challenges against family teams of two competitions), every year. They have done six and always put in 100%, achieving great results (Jonathan was 2nd in his age group last year).
Does Jonathan know any other Little Buddies?
Jonathan does basketball skills training at Tawa College on Sundays and last term one of the other boys came up to him and asked if he did Big Buddy. The other boy also had a Big Buddy and had recognised Jonathan from somewhere. The boys instantly bonded and I think part of that was because they were both in the same ‘club’. Another benefit that we could not have predicted.
Our waitlist of boys is growing and we are in need of more Big Buddies to make a difference. If this sounds like you or someone you know please click here to find out more.