COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It was a little more than a year ago that Bexley police officer Justin Fleming and 7th grader Kendric McGowan matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
“I thought it was going to be awkward,” said Kendric.
“It’s a little awkward until you break that ice but our first activity together, I could tell he’s got brains on him,” said Justin. “He’s kind a like how I was back in middle school so we match together really well.”
On this day, the two are enjoying some quality time together at the bowling alley. Kendric wins the 2-game match 221 to 219.
“He’s nice. He’s just an all-around good guy,” said Kendric.
“He’s awesome. We get along really well. It’s having the little brother I never had,” said Justin.
Justin and Kendric are matched through the Bigs in Blue partnership, matching police officers with youth. For Justin, it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
“I wanted to give back,” said Justin. “I know it’s making me into a better person too because I want to be an example for him that he could follow and just be a good role model for him.”
And that fact isn’t lost on Kendric, who is making positive strides himself thanks to his Big Brother.
“It helps build your personality. It just all around helps. Just to help people out because there are people going through hard times and stuff like that,” said Kendric.
And whether it’s bowling, a ballgame, or just dinner, it’s all about spending quality time together.
“It doesn’t cut into anything. You go out for an hour and connect with these kids whenever you find free time.” said Justin.T”here’s more time in the day that people realize I guess, especially for something you want to do to give back.”
As for Kendric’s advice to potential mentors: “Don’t be awkward. Just be open and just have fun.”
If you want to learn how to become a Big Brother like Justin, visit bbbscentralohio.org for more information.
This Saturday, there is an event at the Columbus Square Bowling Palace benefiting the organization. You can make a team or a monetary donation to help them reach more youth in the community. Find more information at Bowl-big.org