United Way of Northern Ozaukee helps Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee County make a difference in the lives of Ozaukee County youth one child at a time. One of these amazing children is Tom who was referred to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee’s School-based Program in 2006 by his school psychologist. He was struggling with expressing his feelings appropriately and his peer and family relationships were lacking. After being matched in the School-based Program for a little while, Tom’s father felt that he would benefit from a mentor outside of school and enrolled him in the Community-based program. Tom’s mother has not been a part of his life since he was a young child and his father felt he would be well-served to have a caring and nurturing female figure in his life in the form of a Big Sister.
Little Brother Tom was matched to Big Sister Kathy in July of 2007. Kathy is a warm, funny, and caring, now retired social worker whose own children are grown and out of the house. Kathy cares deeply for children and wanted a volunteer experience that provided her with more positive interactions with youth than her work with the Department of Social Services. Due to Tom’s difficult experiences with his mother, Tom had a hard time building trust and opening up to Kathy. However, Kathy found that he was craving positive attention and they discovered shared interests that helped them to develop a strong friendship and breakdown Tom’s wall. Over the years, they have explored Harrington Beach State Park, attended Bucks and Brewers games, gardened at Kathy’s house, attended plays and museums, watched classic movies, and attended a variety of agency-sponsored activities. Tom has opened up with Kathy about the struggles he faces at school, at home, and with his peers. Kathy has always been there to listen and provide guidance and sound advice. Tom has had opportunity to participate in activities he never thought he would enjoy and has formed friendships with Kathy’s husband and children. Some of their favorite moments together are sharing low-key family time at Kathy’s home.
Now that Tom is in high school, Kathy is helping him to explore his future options and has plans to introduce him to friends and neighbors that have careers he might enjoy. Tom’s father, John, shared that Kathy has been a great stabilizing figure in Tom’s life and even though he is 16 years old, he will drop everything to spend some quality time with Kathy. John said that Tom deeply trusts and sees Kathy as a motherly figure which has been extremely valuable in helping him through some tough times the family has experienced over the past few years.