From the start, it was obvious that John was going to deliver great things as a Big Brother. John approached his role as a mentor with the same energy and determination that he has dedicated to all of his endeavors in his life, from his work, to his many interests and pursuits.
John and Patrell were matched in 2009 when Patrell was 13. Cynthia, Patrell’s mother, was raising her son on her own and realized she cannot fill the void of the missing male figure in his life. When he met John, Patrell wanted a Big Brother who could be a friend, provide him with guidance and also have fun together. Cynthia wanted someone who could help Patrell make the most of his talents because although he is very gifted he sometimes lacks confidence and drive to get things done. They got all of those “wishes” and more with John.
Four years later, Patrell is a bright and personable 17 year old boy, and John is still by his side as an active, consistent role model. John was his advocate in helping him to apply for admission to his current school, getting him organized with a filing system for his information, contacting the football coach at the school on his behalf and requesting letters of recommendation to assist with his application process. Patrell is an honor’s student who is thriving on the challenging curriculum, plays football and basketball and is involved in many service clubs. He was inducted into the National Honor Society last year and a recipient of several scholarships due to his high academic achievement. So many of these accomplishments may not have taken place without John’s unwavering presence and guidance in Patrell’s life.
John taught Patrell through his actions that a friendship is a two way street. He pushes Patrell to new levels, but also pushes himself in the same way. Patrell loves to fish and John wanted to be able to share this with him. Unfortunately he is highly allergic to fish, but John felt that showing interest in something Patrell loved so much would highlight how compromise in all relationships can benefit both individuals. First they took a visit to the Fort Lauderdale Fishing Hall of Fame, where Patrell enjoyed learning more about fishing. The next step was to be able to give Patrell the opportunity to do some “real” fishing when Big Brother Big Sisters had their fishing tournament. John challenged himself and took Patrell fishing for the day along with the other matches on the fishing tournament. It is a memory that Patrell treasures knowing that his Big went that day just to see him doing something he loves. For John it was a day of pride as he watched this boy he had come to love display his natural talents through a hobby he has always been involved in.
When asked about his Big Brother, Patrell said, “Mr. John and I have a close bond that cannot be broken. The void I felt from not having my Dad around has now been filled. Every outing that we attend leaves a lasting memory. He goes out of his way to make sure that he has given his “all”. He keeps his word and is a great person all around.”