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Exceptional Alumni: Kyle and Gary’s Story of Growth and Connection

January 2024

Gary and Kyle's story isn't just about mentorship through Big Brothers Big Sisters; it's about two people who found a special connection that changed their lives. From nervous first meetings to trips that opened up new worlds, their journey shows how a helping hand can light the way for someone else.

Gary, drawn to Kyle’s energy and shared interests, became a steady guide. He encouraged Kyle through school bumps and cheered him on at graduation, all with a proud smile. “When you watch or read the news, it’s all doom and gloom and there is constant angst between generations and divisions between people,” Gary shares, “but Kyle shows me, regularly, that the next generation will do well!”

“Mentorship is not a single relationship but is something that is constant in life. We are able to mentor all the time if we look for the opportunity. We can do it with a simple interaction with an individual anywhere, any time. We can always influence others we come in contact with and possibly change their ideas, opinions, behaviors and maybe better their lives in the process.”

We asked both Gary and Kyle why mentorship is important:
Gary says: “I realize that mentorship is not a single relationship but is something that is constant in life. We are able to mentor all the time if we look for the opportunity. We can do it with a simple interaction with an individual anywhere, any time. We can always influence others we come in contact with and possibly change their ideas, opinions, behaviors and maybe better their lives in the process. I always look for opportunities to have a positive interaction with others every day, even with complete strangers. I feel it elevates me to have a greater purpose, that I can make someone’s life better just by a simple interaction or conversation.“

“I feel like all young adults need a role model and that is exactly what I had. Someone to receive advice from, someone to admire, someone who’s experienced life already.”

Kyle says: “I feel like all young adults need a role model and that is exactly what I had. Someone to receive advice from, someone to admire, someone who’s experienced life already. My mom was very busy and my dad wasn’t in the picture, although my mom did a great job in bringing me up, having Gary there to help me with so many things was a blessing.”

For Kyle, Gary was more than just a mentor; he was a rock in a sometimes-rough sea. “Gary was very supportive,” Kyle says, “no matter how lost I felt he always gave me the courage to be someone important. He made me feel as if I could be or do anything I wanted.” Their Northern Michigan adventure, Kyle’s first big trip beyond school, was a turning point. “We drove over the 5 mile long Mackinac bridge…” Kyle says, “… stood on the huge frozen Lake Huron, did a bunch of sightseeing and ate some delicious food! It was a life changing experience for me.” Standing on frozen Lake Huron, Kyle realized the world held endless possibilities, a feeling Gary had helped him discover.

Their bond wasn’t about grand gestures. Simple meals and everyday talks became their shared ground for growth. Gary, with his years of experience, offered a safe space for Kyle to ask questions about life, a gift that continues to this day. “I do let him be independent and want to be able to make decisions himself ” Gary says, “so I like to give his ideas and ask other questions so he can figure out his way.”

Today, Kyle is a successful Journeyman Gas Fitter, homeowner, and most importantly, a close friend to Gary. They fix things together, share meals, and navigate life’s twists and turns, side-by-side.  “I want to have Kyle in my life forever,” Gary says, “he is a son to me as much as my own children.” for Kyle, “Gary is family and I don’t see anything changing.”

Gary and Kyle’s story is a reminder that sometimes, all it takes is one person to believe in you, to guide you, and to show you the strength you hold within. It’s a story that whispers hope, not just for Gary and Kyle, but for all of us who believe in the power of connection to build brighter futures.

At BBBS of Southeast Michigan, we celebrate the LITTLE moments make a BIG impact.

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