Little Things, Big Impact: David’s Mentorship Story

Sharmaine Sun Stories January 25, 2024

Unlike with most Matches, David’s Big chose him. Al was the Assistant Coach on David’s soccer team, who brought a laidback, positive nature to David’s life. Noticing David’s need for an extra source of support, Al approached David’s mom, a loving and hardworking single mother of two, and asked if David could use a Big Brother. “He saw the gap and he took the time,” David says.

For David, Al was a breath of fresh air. David and his family led a busy, complicated, and stressful life. “It’s the single mom, supporting two kids, going back to school, welfare, eventually working—it was stressful,” he says. “I always grew up feeling very different than everyone else, but with Al, it was fun just to be with someone who’s happy and easy going. Easy going wasn’t something I had around in my life. Everything was hard.” But David loved Al’s humor, his warm, teasing nature, and his ability to “jump in the river”. Their carefree road trip to California in Al’s white TransAm still takes the cake for David’s favorite memory they shared. “Al was light. That’s the best way I can think about it. He feels like a light to me… I think I could use Al right now in my life. Someone that just is a little easy going,” he says. 

More than anything, David was grateful for a positive male presence, someone to look up to, listen to for advice, and who made him feel less different. “I never had a guy at my side.” But that changed when Al became his Big. “I just had great pride in him,” David remembers, “So I think there was an amazing amount of confidence and pride that got built, that hopefully countered a bit of the chip on the shoulder [I had growing up].”

Al and David lost touch for a few years as life grew busy, but David looked him up years later and gave him a call. “And it was the same Al,” David smiles. “That’s almost 30 years ago and yet I can still sit here and be brought to tears talking about him. That’s awesome.”

“Al was light. That’s the best way I can think about it. He feels like a light to me.”

Al’s impact in three years was large enough that David knew he would mentor a Little of his own some day. “That was a big, big deal for me to become a Big and that was because of Al. Hands down. I absolutely remember at that age saying, ‘I will be a Big and do that same thing,'” he says. David was Matched with his Little, Kacar, in 2004. Kacar was and is a similarly happy and goofy presence in his life. “We’d have pizza nights and play video games and kinda just have tons of fun together. I know he really enjoyed it.” David did too. “I think I can see the pride in him similar to what I had with Al.” He knows he and Kacar are going to be a lifelong Match.

Aside from being both an Alumni Big and Little, this year, David joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area’s Board and is an invaluable member of our team. “The first person I told [was] Kacar,” David shares, “He was so proud. So I think that was kinda cool for him ’cause he sees the impact that he’s had on me and vice-versa… It’s very easy to connect with everything the organization is doing because I’ve lived almost every part of it.” Having been a Big, David’s excited to share his story and encourage more people to be Bigs, even when it’s hard. His advice—”Stick with it. It’s the best thing ever. Trust me.” David feels the mission because it’s his story. It helps him push for the best for our Littles. 

“It’s just the fact that someone was there. It had such an impact on my life.”

And what is the best? “It’s the little stuff. Both the little things that matter to the Little, but also it’s the little successes that should matter to the Big. It’s just the fact that someone was there. It had such an impact on my life. I’d rather go small and have a higher impact than go big and lighter impact,” David says. It’s a message that carries through all aspects of his life—with his family, with his work and philanthropic work, and with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. 

“You don’t need to have the fairy tale story,” David explains, “with Al, I had someone for a couple years that was on my side. Just having someone that you don’t have to perform [with] and makes you feel a little less different. That you’re—that you’re enough, is awesome,” he said. That was enough. It’s having a friend to talk to and relax with. It’s having someone who picks up the phone when you call, no matter what. It’s having someone who supports you and is on your side. It’s the truth of mentorship and of life that David knows so well—it takes little to be big.

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