The first board of directors Bryan Gault ever served on – that of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley – was certainly one that had a hugely positive effect on his life. Serving several terms throughout the 1980s, and still a dedicated supporter of the agency’s two flagship events, Bowl For Kids’ Sake and the annual golf tournament, Bryan always mentions he “tried to be the best advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters over the years.”
“I was recruited by a fellow board member, Rich Drobnicki,” Bryan, a partner at Wind Gap Chevy in Wind Gap, PA, says. “He told me about the program and the need for volunteers. I went to an event with the Bigs and Littles and I was hooked.”
When Bryan started on the board, he was a part of the agency based only in Lehigh County. It wasn’t until 1983 when the Lehigh County and Northampton County organization boards met to chart a path forward. “We were actually one of the first agencies to ‘regionalize’ in the Lehigh Valley,” Bryan says. “We were a small agency back then, very tight knit. We all chipped in for whatever task was needed.” The merger was one of the largest milestones he remembers for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As a longtime board member, Bryan was very active in many Big Brothers Big Sisters special events – and was responsible for the annual golf tournament, which he’s supported since his early years on the Board.
“Bowl for Kids’ Sake was the most important event, and our goal in the early years was [to raise] $75,000,” Bryan remembers. “We had casino nights, golf tournaments, and trivia fundraisers, as well. We also had quarterly Big/Little events. Not only did the board members participate, we also brought our Littles, plus unmatched children. My heart sank at the realization that these kids didn’t have matches yet.”
That got Bryan involved as a Big Brother for a short time – and brought his wife onto the Board, as well. “[My Little Brother’s] mother was a flight attendant based out of Allentown, but got a job a year later and moved out of the area,” Bryan says. “They lived in a rough neighborhood, so she wouldn’t let him out to play. I taught him how to play baseball and he enjoyed going to the park where he could be with other kids.”
The most impactful moment, Bryan says, came when his wife volunteered to take an unmatched Little to Big Brothers Big Sisters’ annual holiday celebration. “We picked her up in downtown Allentown, my wife knocks on the door and out comes this girl in a velvet Christmas dress,” Bryan says. “Her father thanked us for taking her to the party. He had tears in his eyes because she was going to a party and she was such a happy girl.”
“My wife had the best time with her,” he continues. “She got a present before she left and said to my wife that the best present she could get was my wife to be her Big Sister. It melted our hearts.”
Though the goal for many events was to raise the needed funds to create more mentoring matches, Bryan also recalls the impact conveyed to the Greater Lehigh Valley community at each event. With so many unmatched children, Bryan knew the importance of events like Big Stories. “When we started the annual awards dinner, the stories of the Bigs and Littles didn’t leave a dry eye in the place,” he mentions. “You knew what a great program Big Brothers Big Sisters was in the Lehigh Valley.”
Asked why he’s been involved for nearly four decades, Bryan says simply: “The mentoring relationship makes a huge difference in a young person’s life.”
We thank Bryan for his many years of dedicated service to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley.