In the coming days, nearly 300 Comcast employees nationwide will launch — or in many cases, relaunch — relationships with young people they mentor through our company's partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Named "Beyond School Walls," the Comcast initiative is the largest workplace mentoring program in the country, with "Littles" traveling from their school classrooms to meet with "Bigs" in Comcast offices in 12 cities.
Read about the experience of Marc Baker, a 16-year Comcast employee who is volunteering as a "Big" for a second year in Manchester, NH.
The first time I met my "Little," he was painfully shy. For him, and most of the other "Littles," an office building like ours in Manchester was overwhelming. They'd never seen anything like it in their lives, and for many of them, it was also the first chance they had to interact with a mentor.
Over the weeks, my Little started to open up. It was great showing him the office and letting him know that it was possible for him to grow up and work somewhere similar. But over time, I found myself wondering more about what my Little did when he left our office and what his life at home was like. I decided to take the next step and become my Little's community match as well as his workplace match.
When we started meeting outside the office, it became clear to me how different my Little's life was from my own children's. His experience with the outside world was minimal, and the things I take for granted were things he'd never imagined.
Throughout the year, I slowly opened my Little's eyes to new experiences, like eating in restaurants and going to the movies. Along the way, we had fun and we also learned a lot from each other. He learned simple things, like how to hold doors for people and say "please" and "thank you." I learned how to appreciate the little things in life far more than I ever had.
I've done countless things with my Little, from going to baseball games to just playing in the yard with our dogs, but every afternoon we spend together is an opportunity for me to teach him the self-confidence and skills he'll need to fulfill his potential.
Coming from such different backgrounds, my Little will often ask me, "Are you rich?" And I always answer, "No, but I've worked hard for everything I have, and you can, too." I want my Little to know that he can be or do anything he wants, no matter where he came from, as long as he stays in school and out of trouble.
This year, my Little will turn 8, and each time we meet, our relationship gets stronger. He comes to me with issues he's having or to ask my advice, and I give him the support he needs to stay focused on the future. We've been through a lot together, but the highlight of my year was when I bought him a doughnut, and he turned to me and said, "You're the best Big Brother ever!" I'll never forget how special that made me feel.