Last weekend I was thrilled to attend the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Austin "Ice Ball" in Austin. With over 750 people in attendance, a good time was enjoyed by all and a lot of money was raised for this worthy cause. What makes it even more special is that my husband and I were the guests of Kate and Hector Perez (my daughter and son-in-law.) Hector has a been a "Big" since 2010 and in 2014 was named Big Brother of the Year for all of Texas. I am so proud to share his story today!
Hector was raised in San Antonio, and like so many, he faced many challenges. As a teenager, he picked himself up and made a decision to create his own opportunities for a better life, with the support of family and friends. Eventually, he enlisted in the US Air Force with the hopes of "seeing the world" and instead, being stationed in San Antonio and Wichita Falls, he got to see more of Texas!! With this background he was able to attend college, graduate school and set out on a career path toward success! Realizing the importance of having a mentor during his own challenges of growing up, he chose to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.
In Hector's words:
" I started as a "Big" in December of 2010. I wanted to become a "Big" and become a part of this organization because I had gotten to a point in my life where I was very grateful for where I was and where I have come from and wanted to give back to my community in an impactful way."
"I get to see my "little" Gabriel grow up in an environment in which I can positively impact outcomes in his life. The most rewarding part is what I get out of the organization and of being a "Big" vs anything I could have done for Gabriel. "
Together now for almost five years, Hector and Gabe have shared many special experiences, but my personal favorite is that he asked Gabe to be his ring bearer at their wedding last September. I got to sit with Gabe before the wedding, to help calm some jitters and I was so impressed. He is a fine young boy, smart, polite and very inquisitive...and I know Hector has played a large part in that. He has truly become a member of Gabe's family and frequently includes his brother Tre (currently on the waiting list for a big brother) on their outings.
Since becoming a Big Brother to Gabe, Hector has felt the call to become involved with BBBS in even more ways... he is instrumental in a new program to encourage the involvement of our veterans as well as serving as a member of the Board of Directors. And the latest role ... next August, Hector and Kate have been asked to be Co-chairs of "Ice Ball 2016" to keep the momentum going!
When I asked him what would you tell others to encourage others to get involved in this or any other group as a volunteer. He said:
"Just start, don't wait around and say "I just don't have time". You will make time and figure out a way for it to be in your life. I have been asked by so many people "how much time does it take?" or "I am not sure I will have the time to dedicate" and my answer is simple, the time will figure itself out and you will get so much more out of being a "Big" than you can ever image.
When I became a "Big", I did not know what to expect and was a bit outside of comfort zone when I started. Getting outside of your comfort zone means you are growing and I have grown so much since I started as a "Big". If I look back 4.5 years now since I first met with Gabriel in December 17th, 2010, I would say the following; Outside of my marriage to my wife, this is the best thing I have ever done by far. If you don't get involved in BBBS, get involved somewhere, you will get way more than you give."
Big Brothers Big Sisters supports relationships that provide consistent, positive, one-to-one interaction between a single-parent child and an adult volunteer who will be an advisory and friend on the journey from childhood to adulthood. To learn more about BBBS and find a chapter in your area visit: www.bbbs.org