The Story of Andre and Zionel

In May 2019, Big Brother Andre and Little Brother Zionel were matched in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. Zionel’s mother, Hilda, had enrolled him with BBBSLV with the hope that he could experience having a strong male role model in his life. Andre’s interest in becoming a Big came from his desire to give back to his community; he strived to make a difference and help someone.

Andre and Zionel initially used their outings to get to know each other better. Hilda immediately noticed her son’s positive attitude when he returned from being with Andre. “He loved his time with Andre. He came home and shared what they did and where they went without being asked.”

Today, now that they’re well acquainted, Andre and Zionel spend time playing soccer, being outside, playing games and simply enjoying each other’s company. And those simple interactions have impacted Zionel in many positive ways.

Since they met, Andre has talked to Zionel about his behavior at school and how to stay motivated by reminding him that education is the key to success. With encouragement from his Big Brother, Zionel’s behavior has improved and Andre notices him using his manners more. To build and maintain trust with Zionel, Andre just tries to be himself and listen to him, making Zionel feel heard. Andre notes, “I have expectations for Zionel, but at the same time I support him.”

When together, Zionel’s outgoing personality shines through and the match always has something to talk about. Zionel opens up to Andre by sharing details about school, friends, his parents, sister and dog. Their relationship has helped Zionel grow more confident, as he never hesitates to try new games and activities with his Big.

Now, over one year into the relationship, Hilda still sees the strength of their connection and the impact it has on Zionel’s behavior. They just have a great relationship and have fun together. If my son is happy, I am happy.”

The Future is BIG! We’ve got a goal to recruit 30 new mentors over the month of September. Learn how you can join Andre and be a mentor for someone like Zionel on our The Future is BIG campaign page, or sign up now as a volunteer!