MATCH OF THE YEAR
Each year we choose one extraordinary match to represent our local agency as our official Match of the Year. We celebrate their friendship throughout the year and the shining example they set for the rest of our matches.
The pair were matched in 2018 when Steven was 14 years old.
Big Brother Phil Risko has been a Big to five different Little Brothers over a span of 32 years. Each of Phil’s matches ended as the Littles aged out of the program, but they have remained in contact all of this time. When Phil takes on a new Little he is in it for the long haul. In addition to being a Big, Phil has been a financial supporter of BBBS as well as a board member. He has helped and supported many of our fundraising efforts, and has recruited other Bigs for the program. Phil has been a true asset to our agency over the years and a stellar Big Brother who is so deserving of this honor.
"With every project we work on, Phil has a life lesson. Over the years, one of the biggest things Phil has taught me is to have goals. He always told me to make sure I am grateful for what I have but to always strive to be better. Almost every time Phil and I meet, we make sure to leave with setting goals for the next time we meet. I have really enjoyed my years with Phil and am excited to continue our friendship as I get older and show him the things I will learn and have learned from him." - Little Steven
Steven’s mom recognized that he could use some extra support and signed him up for our program. She shared that he'd been struggling with bullying and his grades were failing in school. He had some really tough, down times where he talked about life not being worth living. Mom was scared that Steven would take his own life. She was so hopeful that a Big Brother would change things. A positive male role model could make all the difference. Unfortunately, Steven’s dad was not around. He would always promise things and never follow through. This NEVER helped the situation. After about a year of waiting for a Big Brother, Phil’s current match had ended and Phil agreed to take on another Little Brother. Mom was extremely grateful when we said we finally had a match for Steven. We were excited as well and the two appeared to hit it off from the start.
Big Brother was not swayed by the challenges in Steven’s life and was there for Steven through these difficult times. Phil shared how Steven would call him often to seek advice. He would see Steven take that advice to heart and put it into action. Within no time at all everyone could see the good changes within Little Brother. Steven was gaining confidence and making friends. Phil would encourage Little Brother to do his best, and they’d work on projects together to help boost Steven’s confidence. Steven has grown into a confident, kind and caring young man over the years. He continues to reach out to his Big Brother for advice. They have set many goals along the way and are sure to accomplish these goals.
This match has had many fun adventures together. Over the years, they have taken on quite a few woodworking projects and most recently Phil had Steven help Big Brother to mill the wood from scratch. They have built a go-cart together, and Little Brother has learned to work on boats at Big Brother’s marina. They set goals and don’t give up until these goals are accomplished. Phil has helped teach Little Brother to become more organized. Their newest goal is to purchase a boat that needs work, fix it up and sell it for a profit. Big Brother wants Little Brother to learn how to make money on his own. Little Brother has worked at Big Brother’s marina the last couple of summers and shared, with confidence, all that he has learned on the job. Big Brother helped teach Little Brother to drive and get his driver’s license. They worked on Little Brothers grandfather’s old truck that had been sitting in the yard for years to get it running, which gave Little Brother so much independence once he got his driver’s license.
Steven continues to impress us at every turn. It’s hard to think that he was once this shy kid who was bullied, had no friends, and felt that life wasn’t worth living. Steven has joined the local volunteer fire company and is proud to be a member of the Jr. Firefighters. He attends the local vo-tech trade school to learn how to work on cars and plans to continue his education by attending Pennco Tech College after high school. Steven has grown to love working with his hands, and is excited to become a mechanic and hopes to own his own business someday. He is not the same boy we met way back in the 4th grade. Little Brother now has motivation and is proud of himself. Steven has become a truly amazing young man.
Phil and Steven’s match is all that we hope for each and every time we create a match at Big Brothers Big Sisters. The two have a strong, lasting relationship that will definitely continue well beyond their time in this program.