|Alema has helped his "Little Brother" go from Ds to As.
By day, Rafael Aleman, 33 is a busy account executive at Aramark Uniform Services, but that doesn’t stop him from being a Big Brother.
Yep, just when you thought that program was long gone, guess again. It’s alive and here and it’s known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County.
Aleman says to make a difference in not only a child's life but your own is a great feeling.
“It's rewarding to see the positive influence you can have on a child. You're investing in the future. I can't tell you how many people have congratulated me when they found out I was a Big Bro through my wife,” he says.
He became interested in becoming a Big Brother while watching the news and seeing how many youths don't have someone who can show them what is right and wrong, what's possible for them and help guide them.
“Many children lack a mentor or someone who can guide them to reach their goals and aspirations, some of us take these things for granted,” he says. “You have the opportunity to make a difference and invest in the future.”
His Little Brother Chris is someone Aleman likes spending time with.
“I have a lot of fun with him; he's high energy and funny. I didn't know what to expect at first but with the support from the agency and how well we were matched by a match support specialist, we've had a blast since my Little and I met. I have grown as a person thanks to my Little.”
Some of the things they do together include playing sports, bowling, watching movies, playing chess, golfing, XBOX 360 and whatever other activities they come up with.
“I always heard people saying, ‘If I can change the life of one person, everything would've been worth it’ I now agree 100 percent; I realized life is not just about me but what I can contribute to others,” he adds.
Aleman likes it when he sees Chris smile from ear-to-ear after realizing he has great potential and can do whatever he dreams -- including kicking his butt playing basketball.
But he does say it can be a challenge to be a mentor: “Admitting defeat after 12 rounds of ‘Need for Speed’ on XBOX 360,” for instance.
Happily married for five years, Aleman and his wife are planning to start a family after returning from a trip to Japan in July.
“This program really works,” he says of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Chris told me how he used to get Cs and Ds, but after telling him several times how proud I was of him and that I knew he would one day be the first in his family to graduate from a University, he is now getting As and Bs. I told my match support specialist, I was learning Japanese after I had met my Little and oddly enough, after a few times meeting, my Little was into Anime. He told me he wanted to learn Japanese, that's how good the matches can be. I just hope that more men see the importance of being a Big Bro. I see the need for many kids to have someone to talk to, and someone to tell them that it's possible and they can do it.”