By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Region – For the past 12 years, almost every week, Brian Thomson, 57, of Hopkinton, a software project manager at BOSE, has volunteered with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Mass./Metrowest (BBBS of Central Mass/Metrowest). First with Jesse and then Jon, Thomson has fulfilled the organization’s mission: “… to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”
Thomson, who grew up with two older brothers, explained his interest in BBBS. He said, “I have three daughters (Chelsea, Nikki, and Erika, now in their early 20s), and am divorced. When it happened I didn’t get to see my kids as much as I used to… Kids have a great outlook on life. Things are new and fresh, and they’re optimistic. I wanted to be around them more.”
He was not interested in mentoring a boy who just wanted to play video games.
“I have lots of energy,” he said.
In fact, for the past six to seven years, Thomson has been commuting to work three to four days a week on his bicycle – on sunny, rainy, and snowy days, during daylight and in darkness. Twice a week he rides 25 miles each way between Hopkinton and Stowe, and once or twice he does the same between his home and Framingham.
Thomson started volunteering at BBBS slowly, first at a single activity. Eventually, he went through their background check and screening process to become a big brother (Big). Both he and his little brother (Little) were carefully matched; each completed a lengthy, detailed questionnaire.
The first meeting between Thomson and Jesse, Big and Little, took place with BBBS of Central Mass./Metrowest staff at their office in Framingham. Jesse’s mom was there as well. At the time, Jesse lived with her and his two sisters, and had no male role model.
For the next several years, Thomson and Jesse got together after school once a week, and sometimes on weekends. They went bicycling, hiking, canoeing and camping, played basketball, and shared their passion for science fiction books. They participated in activities at BBBS, and Thomson was given tickets by BBBS to take Jesse to professional sporting events.
Throughout his years with Jesse, BBBS provided Thomson with training, support, and frequent check-ins. In addition, Thomson was in contact with Jesse’s mother, who he said, “… is the kindest, most generous person I have ever met.”
This Big and Little pair are still in touch, even though Jesse, now 20, aged out of the program at 18, and has moved out-of-state. Thomson said that they connect by phone, Facebook or IM about once a week. He recently told Jesse that unless he made some changes, the young man would “float for the rest of his life.” Jesse, an ROTC graduate, responded, “That’s not good enough.” Now he’s thinking about joining the military.
Thomson has also had a wonderful experience, he said, as a Big to his second Little, Jon, who is an only child who lives with his mother and grandmother.
“I expect (my Littles) to grow up and go away. But Jon (who recently turned 18) asked that we stay together,” Thomson said. Just as he has done with Jesse, Thomson will continue to be a presence in Jon’s life.
Thomson is now gearing up for his third Little.
Gail Melgren, BBBS OF Central Mass/Metrowest’s interview and match support specialist, said, “Brian is a fantastic Big Brother. He is consistent, and dedicated to his Little Brother. He has a great working relationship with his Little’s mom and they work together for the sake of (her son).”
If you are interested in volunteering, either for individual events, or long-term as a Big Brother or Big Sister, contact Angela Martano ([email protected] or 508-879-7762 ext. 19), or apply online www.bbbscm.org has offices in Framingham and Worcester.