GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- The Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program continues to look for volunteers to pair up with children who usually come from single-parent homes.
At Blodgett St. John's, one match has blossomed into a 15 year bond between Charlie Lott and Val Jones.
Jones reflects, "I think there are millions of people out there that are single mothers, single fathers. Unfortunately they have either lost their father or don't have a male role model or female role model in their lives anymore, unfortunately that was my situation."
That's why at the age of nine, Jones' mother signed him up for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program.
He was paired with Charlie Lott, then a married dad to a one year old. Lott's own father was a big brother and he says he knew he wanted to follow in his footsteps. The two admit there were some challenging life changes they dealt with along the way, but their relationship only grew stronger.
"It's a mutually rewarding experience. It's not a charity case situation where you are a pure volunteering of your time that's really all you get out of it is to check the box and feel good about yourself. Not that there's anything wrong with volunteering your time but this was much more than that," explains Lott. "I have a friend for life, I'd like to believe and part of our extended family."
Jones adds, "I've learned so much from Charlie I think the greatest lesson I've learned from him is when you get, you give-- when you learn, you teach. he's given me so much in learning, sense of being, sense of wanting to achieve different things in your life and he also taught me so much in my life."
Jones is now a student at Davenport University and Lott has since joined the At Blodgett St. John's Big Brothers, Big Sisters board.
If you'd like to know more on how to sign up, click HERE.