By Kim Borges
Submitted by Regions Bank
A Regions associate wanted to make an impact in his community by being a youth mentor. Little did he know the impact that brotherly connection would make on him as well.
Their introduction, months in the making, was filled with anticipation, sweaty palms, and nervousness.
Weston, meet Sam; Sam, meet Weston.
It was a job interview of sorts, but not in the way you might think.
“The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEM) team mentioned Weston was a quieter kid, so I expected him to be a little shy at first, which he was,” said Sam Woodring, a Commercial Banking relationship manager with Regions Bank in St. Louis, recalling the day he met his “Little Brother.” “When we played an icebreaker game with our BBBSEM coordinator, I started to see him come out of his shell a bit.”
It’s been just over a year. But the bond is stronger than the length of time would suggest.
“We usually get together twice a month,” said Woodring. “We both like to do anything outside. We’ll hike, hit golf balls and go to the batting cages. Weston also really enjoys playing chess.”
For 120 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has been matching volunteer adult mentors – “Bigs” like Woodring, as they’re known – with “Littles” like Weston across 300 affiliates nationwide.
The goal is to foster friendships, provide guidance and offer a different world perspective supporting the “Little’s” development.
So, what inspired Woodring to become a “Big?”
“I got involved because I was looking for a way to make an impact,” he said. “Being a mentor to a younger person in need of some extra attention was a good fit for my personality.”
Woodring’s not the only Regions associate supporting BBBSEM. Last September, the bank hosted 20 middle schoolers from the nonprofit’s Group Mentoring program at the Mizzou-vs.-Memphis football game as part of the bank’s “Big Bike Tour” in the area. The Group Mentoring model was launched to fuel young people’s pursuits of a meaningful, stable and independent life. (Read more about the Group Mentoring participants’ gameday and BBBS experiences below.)
Regions’ St. Louis Commercial Banking leader and market executive, Scott Hartwig, is also a BBBSEM advocate.
On the surface, bringing together “Bigs” and “Littles” might sound easy, but there’s both an art and science to creating lasting connections.
“The team at BBBSEM works really hard to make great matches,” said Woodring. “They gather a lot of background information on the ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles,’ and this helps them make successful matches to foster great relationships.”
“There are a lot of volunteer opportunities that can make an impact, but being a ‘Big’ offers that chance in a unique, personal and deeper way.”
Scott Hartwig, Regions Commercial Banking leader and market executive
Woodring’s match with Weston has yielded more than he ever imagined.
“My favorite part of being a ‘Big’ is getting to have fun while making a big impact on someone’s life,” he said. “Getting closer to my ‘Little’ as we spend more time together and watching him grow up has been a rewarding experience.”
An experience that’s encouraged Woodring’s growth, too.
“From being a ‘Big,’ I have learned you don’t have to be perfect,” he said. “If you consistently show up and have a good attitude, a lot of other things will take care of themselves.”
It’s all proof a little time and care make a big difference – for all involved.
Discover how another Regions associate was honored for being a “Big” in her community.
In Their Words: BBBSEM Participants Share Thoughts
What do you enjoy most about being a “Little” in Big Brothers Big Sisters?
That Big Brothers Big Sisters has shown me so much respect and responsibility in life. (Jeraime)
That we get to go on different trips and experiences. (Koran)
I enjoy that we go places, and that they can help with anything, and I can share stories with them. (Kevion)
What was your gameday experience like?
The stadium was cool and had a great food place. (Jeraime)
I like the stadium. It was nice, and I had never been there. I was surprised there were so many players on one team. (Kevion)
The stadium was nice, the snacks were good, and the fans made the game better. (Fontez)
I was familiar with the stadium because my uncle and grandfather used to practice and play there. (Ronnie).
What’s your favorite thing about your mentor?
I feel like I always have somebody to call, and he’s really cool. (Dontrell)
He tells us important things about life. (Koran)
My favorite thing about my mentor is he’s a football coach and he’s Black. (Ronnie)
He’s cool; matter of fact, Mr. K is one of the coolest mentors I’ve ever met. If you want something, he will get it done for you no matter what. (Jeraime)
My favorite thing about my mentor is that he’s cool and he helps when we need help. (Fontez)
My favorite thing about him is that he’s cool and listens to everything I have to say. And he tries to help with anything he can. (Kevion)
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $147 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas , and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates more than 1,300 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.
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