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Mentoring: A Way of Life

Chris Fay has a lot to be smiling about. He just landed a new job at DTE Energy, his wife, Renee, is running a newly successful chiropractic practice in the Caledonia area, and he was awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big of the Year Award in August, for his successful match of six years with Little Brother, Ethan.

“Ethan’s the brother I never had growing up,” Chris said.

Chris enrolled in the program as young professional, while he
was at Perrigo in Allegan. Chris had interest in the Big Brothers Big Sisters
program because he wanted to give back in a way that was different. He wanted
to make a difference in someone’s life.   

“I always heard about the program but didn’t know a lot
about it,” Chris explained. “Once I learned more, I realized it’s not a huge
commitment. Make it what you want it to be. Find those common interests and
bond over them. Build a relationship. It’s a great time, not a sacrifice.”

In part, Chris was selected for Big of the Year for his
dedication to Ethan over the years and many life changes. During their match,
Chris met and married his now-wife, he left Perrigo to help start a business
with her, and supported his mother through difficult health challenges.
Throughout it all, Chris has remained an enthusiastic and consistent Big.

The two brothers still meet nearly every week. They spend
time together outdoors, fix dirt bikes, play football, go fishing, and have even
have built a chicken coop together. Chris’s wife Renee has become part of the
match herself, and attends some of their activities. With Ethan now in middle
school and playing football for his second year, Chris attends as many of the
weekly games as he can. He continues to be proud of the strides Ethan has made.

“He’s twelve now, but when we first met he was this shy six
year old kid.” Chris reminisced. “During our first match meeting he hid behind
the curtains because he was nervous. I’ve really watched him come out his shell
as our relationship has progressed.”

“I learned who I want to be by hanging out with my Big
Brother,” Ethan beamed.

When Chris thinks about Ethan’s future, he’s looking ahead
and exploring resources to introduce Ethan to different career pathways and
opportunities after graduation. No matter what, they know they’ll stay in touch

If you’re thinking about becoming a mentor, Chris says, “Go
for it! It doesn’t feel like work, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Chris and Ethan have become a prime example of what every
successful match looks like. A relationship that is fun, and caring, and most
importantly: a way of life.

To learn more about how you can ignite a young person’s potential with just two hours twice a month as a Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple, please click here.