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The match started and ended with Ruben, then a nine year old fourth grader and today a 25 year old junior executive with a Connecticut youth organization. And, along the way, we added Ruben’s older half-brother, Charlie, now a small business owner and engaged to a lovely woman who’s slated to become his wife in June, 2012. I can’t wait for the wedding.
Ruben and Charlie lived in Bridgeport, in an apartment with Joyce, their mother, who worked as a part-time clerical assistant for the Bridgeport school system. She worked a second job, too, as onsite manager for the apartment complex. She was determined to give her sons the best upbringing possible, and to open up as many opportunities for them as circumstances allowed. That included having an adult male in their lives, and that’s why she turned to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
The match lasted nearly ten years. The three of us, sometimes as a trio and sometimes a duet, did guy stuff with lots of emphasis on sports. In the spring and summer there was baseball and golf. Fall meant football…and golf. Winter we’d play basketball sometimes, but winter was more for fan activities around a TV set. Today, both guys still do lots of sports, and Ruben and I still play golf together two or three times a season. Those match years flew by, though they remain very much alive in my memory.
Flash back to a Sunday night in November, 2005. Ruben, Charlie and I (and Vicky, my significant other) get together every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That night we were also meeting my youngest son, Phil, and his new fiancée to introduce her to Ruben and Charlie. The four of us were at our table when they came in, and Kelli takes one look and says inquiringly “Charles?” Charlie answers back “Kelli?” To our sheer delight, Charlie and Kelli were classmates in high school, real friends for all four years. It’s a small world and life is good.
Ruben and Charlie have become a part of our family. They have matured into great young men who make me proud to have played a small part in their development. Being a Big Brother has been one of the highlights of my life, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
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