Imari and James

Imari, 16, and James were matched in September 2012, and enjoy going to sporting events, taking trips to beach, and going out to eat. “I recall my first impression of James where it all started,” Imari says. “I thought he looked so cool with his biker jacket on. His clothing style matched his personality: really cool. We immediately connected, he made me feel comfortable, safe, and not afraid to be myself.”

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Since that time, James has helped Imari experience many new things. “My mom never had a lot of money and James never made us feel bad about it,” Imari says. “If it weren’t for James, I would not have gotten the chance to have so many positive experiences. We went to several professional basketball and baseball games. We also went zip lining, to the movies, and to Pismo Beach.”

Imari and James have a unique bond that extends deeper that most friendships. During one of their outings, Imari received the devastating news that his mother had passed away unexpectedly. “James immediately arranged for his coworkers to help move both my mom’s and my personal belongings to my aunt’s house,” Imari says. “The things that we could not fit in my aunt’s house he allowed us to use his storage free of charge.

Through that tough emotional time, James was patient, caring, supportive, and emotionally available for me. I will always love him for that.” Ever since Imari suffered this tragic loss, James has truly stepped up in being a consistent presence in Imari’s life and in helping him grieve. Knowing that holidays without his mom are difficult, James invited Imari and his aunt to join his family for Thanksgiving last year. Even the family dog was invited! “James brings me along to hang out with his friends and family,” Imari says. “I am introduced to anybody who is special in his life. They all accept me and love me like family.  I am not a part of his life but also a part of his family.”

“My life has been such a blessing with James in it,” Imari says. “I am lucky to have James as a role model and father figure. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without him. I never had a father and now I do not have a mother either, but thank God, I still have James. Thank you, Big Brothers Big Sisters, for introducing us. I will forever be grateful!”

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