Jerod was in dire need of someone in addition to his grandmother to demonstrate the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Jerod's parents were not fulfilling their responsibilities to parent Jerod and his siblings, and instead the parents opted to view their children as "friends" and had been found guilty of neglecting their three children. Jerod's grandmother, Denise, saw the potential in her "babies" and received custody and parental rights of her three grandchildren. In the summer of 2004, just upon his ninth birthday, Denise enrolled Jerod in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Kentucky's Community-Based Mentoring program. Jerod already had good attributes and aspirations of playing professional football, and Denise wanted a male role model closer to his own age that could help strengthen Jerod's good characteristics, help him encourage him with academics, and give him his own time away from his younger siblings.
"I look up to Adam a lot because heteaches me what I'm supposed to do and what I'm not supposed to do."
WKU student athlete, Adam, had applied to be a Community-Based Mentoring Big Brother around the same time. Adam had grown up in the Bowling Green area and attended Western Kentucky University, where he played on the WKU football team, was a freshman, and was active in his church. By volunteering as a Big Brother, Adam hoped to have fun and potentially become a role model to the new friend he would be matched with. Throughout his interview process, Adam expressed interest in going horseback riding, fishing and to the park with a Little Brother. Not only was Adam an ideal volunteer and role model, he was exactly the type of responsible person that Jerod needed to be around.
Adam and Jerod formed a close bond right away and began to enjoy a variety of fun weekly activities together, such as going to Sonic for ice cream, playing games at Gatti Land and going horseback riding on Adam's family farm. Adam also encouraged Jerod in his academic performance and behavior at school, and Jerod became more outgoing throughout his matched activities with Adam. Denise repeatedly reported that she was "thrilled' with the progress Jerod was making in his behavior, attitude, and social skills. Jerod reported to a local newspaper that featured his match "I started just being good in school. I look up to Adam a lot because he teaches me what I'm supposed to do and what I'm not supposed to do."
Jerod and Adam have been matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters' Community-Based program for over six years. Jerod is now a 15-year-old high school student, and Adam has graduated from college and gotten married. He is now a firefighter for the Bowling Green Fire Department, and he and his wife just recently had their first child. Jerod is excited to be an honorary uncle to Adam's son, as he has been intertwined with Adam's family since becoming matched. When Adam proposed to his wife, Jerod helped him pick out a spot in which to do so, and Jerod was also a groomsman in Adam's wedding. Adam and his wife take Jerod to church with them on a regular basis. Jerod has become a very well-mannered young man over the years, and Adam continues to offer him guidance on becoming an upstanding man in our community. Throughout the course of their six-year match, these young men have truly become "brothers" to each other, and it is very likely (and the hope of the agency) that they will continue to enjoy each other's company for the rest of their lives. As well, Jerod hopes to follow in his Big Brother's footsteps of responsibility and success. While Adam is definitely seen as a local hero for his efforts as a firefighter, he has been a hero to Jerod for many years.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Kentucky is committed to long-term impacts for the youth we serve. A national study published in June 2009 found that the majority of adults mentored as children through Big Brothers Big Sisters' program have a four-year college degree, household incomes of $75,000 or greater and strong relationships with their spouses, children and friends. Conducted by Harris Interactive e on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters, this was the first large-scale examination of long-term benefits of Big Brothers Big Sisters' program. Many of the survey participants grew up with the long-term benefits of Big Brothers Big Sisters' program. Many of the survey participants grew up with challenging life situations, but their Big Brothers and Big Sisters allowed them to overcome obstacles and set higher goals.