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Bigs Share knowledge, male point of view with Little

A chance encounter at a laundromat in 2002 convinced Rich Mersereau that he needed to become a Big Brother. He remembers seeing a young boy repeatedly interrupting his mother as she was trying to fold laundry. It was obvious that the boy was unhappy with the situation, as was his mother. So, Mersereau asked if the boy could play pinball with him. “We played for quite a while,” Mersereau says. “He was happy, his mom was happy and I was happy.”

The next day, Mersereau called Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring to volunteer. “I know that single moms need help and I just wanted to help,” he says. A few months later, Mersereau met his Little Brother Collin, then 6 years old. “I remember showing him my toys and my video games,” Collin says.

Mersereau reminds him, “We played soccer on your frontlawn, too, and you’ve been playing soccer ever since.” Mersereau remembers those soccer games well because he attended many of them.

Collin is now 18 years old and preparing to graduate from Otsego High School. He has been raised by his single mother and says he wouldn’t be the person he is today without the guidance of his Big Brother: “There is some knowledge you can only get from another guy and I needed his male point of view.”

The duo, whose relationship started with soccer and video games, still enjoys hanging out together, watching and playing sports, and playing video games. Both are extremely competitive which can lead to some fierce battles. Recalling a trip to a go-cart track, Collin teases Mersereau, “I beat ’ya!” Mersereau laughs and insists, “I let you win!” Collin scoffs at this and the lively debate continues.

Asked about their favorite memories of their match, Big and Little both rank travelling together at the top of the list. Adventures have included a trip to Washington D.C. where they toured all the national monuments and attended a golf tournament where they were thrilled to see Tiger Woods up close. Other favorite memories include taking a small-plane trip to attend an Indy car race and a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma to watch dirt-bike racing.

While the more spectacular moments have made for great memories, it’s the smaller day-to-day interactions that have cemented the relationship. Mersereau says he took Collin to nearly every orthodontist appointment he ever had and recently accompanied him to get fitted for contact lenses.

The two plan to continue their friendship as Collin moves on to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College in the fall.