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Friendship with Big Brother offered ‘a slice of normal’

“A slice of normal” is what former Little Brother Steve Ramus got from his Big Brother. Raised by his grandmother with no other children in the home, Steve says his Big Brother Bob and his family showed him a “normal family.” Now a married father of two, Steve says this helped him visualize his future. “To this day, you’ll often see me take joy in the most mundane family things, because I know it’s normal,” Steve says.

In addition to providing insight into what “normal” is, Bob’s mentorship altered the course of Steve’s life. “Bob introduced me to a lot of things I may not have otherwise seen,” Steve says, including attending his first Detroit Tigers’ game and college visits. But, in more subtle ways, Bob’s influence had a large impact on Steve’s life. “Bob helped push me out of my comfort zone. He wasn’t afraid of trying new things,” Steve explains. “As a grown man, I’ve traveled all over the world, taken rewarding risks with my career, even met my wife on a blind date, and loved every minute of it. Bob’s example helped enable me to make better decisions in my life, by not allowing fear of the unknown to stop me.”

Now Steve is giving back as a Big Brother. As global head of corporate social responsibility for Perrigo in Allegan, Steve helped form a new Bigs in Business program at his company. Steve also serves on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ board of directors.

Steve, who is matched with 18-year-old Tyler, has two pieces of advice for his fellow Bigs and for those considering becoming a Big.

“First, you need patience. It’s easy in today’s world to want to see the results of your involvement in a few weeks or months,” Steve says. “You need to realize mentorship is a marathon, not a sprint and what you give up in instant gratification, you make up for with sustainable long-term impact.

“Secondly, don’t over think it. Just have as much fun as you can, while being the best example you can be.”

Little Brother Tyler says Steve has become a friend he can talk to without fear of judgement. In addition, Tyler says that his friendship with Steve is doing for him what Steve’s Big Brother did for him: helping him envision the future. “He has me thinking, ‘How can I plan for my future?’”