I guess I’ve always known that I wanted a career that would allow me to have a positive impact on people in some way. When I was younger, I made it my mission every day to make people laugh. As I got older, I was drawn to the field of social work and attended the University of Indianapolis to pursue a degree in the field. I don’t think I truly realized the extent to which Big Brothers Big Sisters impacts youth when I applied for the Match Support Specialist position almost seven years ago.
My first week on the job, I accompanied a more seasoned Match Support Specialist to a match introduction – the first opportunity for a Big and Little to meet each other after being matched together in the program. I remember the anticipation from Madison, nine years old at the time, and her mother, Dawn, as we waited for Madison’s Big Sister to arrive. Madison had an upbeat personality and hoped for a friend to provide encouragement and support her dreams. When the doorbell rang and her Big Sister walked through the door, the excitement was visible on Madison’s face. Christine, a freshman at IUPUI, introduced herself to Madison and Dawn with a huge smile and the two have now been together for eight years. Looking back, I realize that this was the first encounter that altered Madison’s outlook on life and it was the first time I experienced the life-changing impact this type of friendship can have on a child.
I spend a lot of time facilitating match introductions with new Bigs and Littles and recently, I met a 14 year old Little Brother who couldn’t wait to start hanging out with his Big Brother. Before his Big Brother arrived at his house, he turned to me and asked a series of important questions, “When can we get started? Can we get started now? Can my Big Brother stay and hang out for a while?” I also met a Little Sister who was so excited to meet her Big Sister that she literally started doing cartwheels in the living room!
I’m honored to be able to witness the excitement Littles express when meeting their mentors and these experiences remind me why I love what I do. But, the impact I’ve seen mentoring relationships have over the long term is really inspiring, and I can’t think of a better way to live out my own dreams than to be a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mission.
Jon Carolin is originally from Troy, Michigan and graduated from University of Indianapolis in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Prior to his role as Match Support Team Leader, Jon served as a Match Support Specialist for four years – providing advice, resources, and a listening ear to Bigs, Littles, and parents. In his free time, Jon likes hanging out with his wife, Sara and their dog, Lucy, listening to music, and watching hockey.