Shaheem and Rick’s story begins in 2010, two years before they were officially matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. Shaheem was just 10 years old when he and his mother reached out to us at Big Brothers Big Sisters with the hopes that a mentor could offer Shaheem a “new perspective” in life. Even at a young age, Shaheem was confident, sensitive, witty, creative and wise. He could easily articulate what he wanted from a Big Brother, “Someone who can be there for me, someone I can look up to, and someone I can click with.” At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe in the proven power of one-to-one mentorship on the lives of young people. It was evident that Shaheem’s mentor would also benefit from their friendship because Shaheem had so much to offer to anyone lucky enough to be a part of his life.
In 2010, Shaheem was matched with Cory. Shaheem held nothing back in their friendship, and he was quick to incorporate Cory’s advice into his life. He began to take school seriously, hone his athletic talent, avoid negative influences, and better appreciate his mom’s hard work and dedication to his success.
Not long into his friendship with Shaheem, Cory was accepted into a graduate program in another state. He committed himself to finding Shaheem a new Big Brother. But he refused to let just anyone be Shaheem’s new Big—even determining that none of his friends were fit for the job. After much consideration, Cory realized only one person could possibly step in, someone who was already an incredible mentor to Cory: his dad, Rick.
Rick and Shaheem were officially matched in 2012. It was clear that this match would be mutually rewarding. Rick regularly attended Shaheem’s basketball games and they soon began a tradition of exploring all of the area’s best burger joints. Rick never laid out specific goals for Shaheem. Instead he focused on the importance of being a well-rounded student-athlete both on the court and in the classroom. Shaheem once said, “Mr. Rick has done so much for my family and me. When I was younger I struggled with my anger and I had bad grades in school. Mr. Rick has helped me to cope with my anger and he even helped me with my school work. He has just been a really positive influence on my life.” Shaheem graduated from high school in 2017 and he is currently enrolled in college.
Rick and Shaheem were chosen as the 2017 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado Match of the Year. Ultimately, the match is successful because of Shaheem’s confidence and determination, and Rick’s ability to recognize Shaheem’s considerable potential and create space for him to grow and be himself. Shaheem once said, “You don’t have to be family to have an impact on someone else’s life.”
Rick definitely agrees. “[The match] has really enlightened me. It has opened up my heart in new and unique ways that I think are very important to me, my family as well, and Shaheem.”
This is the power of one-to-one mentoring.
In 2018, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is turning 100 years old and celebrating 100 years of mentoring in Colorado! We will be sharing 100 stories to commemorate our 100 years of history. These stories will highlight the value and importance of mentoring in the lives of current and alumni Littles, Bigs, families, and community partners. Check out our blog each week to view the next story in the series. If you have a story you would like to share, please visit our story collection portal at:https://form.jotform.com/73046559388166.