Mentoring Real Life Story: Scott & Malik
Sometimes mentoring is more than changing one child’s life. In fact, many volunteers go above and beyond their mentor duties, making an impact that reaches far and wide within the community. This is the case for Big Brother Scott Hamilton. Before joining Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, Scott was heavily involved in youth outreach, both as a basketball organizer and a youth leader at his church, experiences that had him looking for more opportunities to help.
When Scott was paired with his Little Brother Malik, his experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters inspired him not only to change his Little’s life, but to change the lives of other children by speaking at the State House in favor of Senate Bill 834, a bill working toward improving family life in Massachusetts. Below, Scott talks about how Big Brothers Big Sisters has positively influenced his life.
Scott had recently divorced when he came upon a Big Brothers information booth in Harvard Square during October Fest. “I knew that I wanted to continue to work with children,” he recalls. Scott and his Little Brother, a third-grader named Malik, were paired through a BBBS school-based program and began to meet regularly during Malik’s school day at lunchtime or recess.
“The really cool thing about it was that I got to see him interact with friends, students and teachers, so it was easy for me to quickly see what challenges he had and where I could be helpful.” Scott started to play a major role in Malik’s life, especially when it came to advocating for him in school. When he noticed his Little struggling with certain subjects, he asked Malik’s mother if he could participate in Malik’s educational review.
“It was pretty clear to me that he was getting frustrated,” Scott says. “After advocating for him in that meeting, they moved him into a separate classroom with kids who learned at a similar pace. Since then, he has been doing awesome — he was so proud this past spring he showed me his report card with all As.”
While sharing a passion for basketball, Scott has encouraged Malik to “broaden his perspectives” and try other adventures such as snowboarding, camping and working on building projects together.
Scott and Malik later transitioned to the School Plus program, meeting both in and outside of school, and when Malik advanced to middle school, the pair moved on to the community-based program. There is no question that Scott has played a major role in shaping Malik’s life, but he emphasizes how much Malik has shaped his life as well.
Seeing Malik’s childhood experience without a father figure made Scott more aware of the added challenges faced by children whose parents are separated or divorced. “When a parent has less significant involvement in their child’s life, the child is prone to have much worse outcomes behaviorally, mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and so on.”
So Scott became involved in advocating for Senate Bill 834, legislation created to ensure that children of divorce would receive significant quality time with each parent. “I felt compelled to go testify on that bill,” he says. “I spoke about my experience with Malik and being a Big Brother, and bearing witness first-hand to the challenges kids have when they are separated from a parent.”
While Scott’s mentoring relationship has influenced his continuing advocacy for the bill, it has also profoundly affected his personal life, allowing him to get in touch with his younger side through such activities as basketball, frisbee and riding bikes.
“It has built my awareness of the problems kids face growing up in single-parent households, and it has led me to a greater appreciation for what I have,” Scott says of his life-changing experience as a Big Brother.