Making a Difference

One of the “things” I mention in the book Real Things is the importance of volunteering and giving back in some way – making a difference.

A friend of mine – Mark Tibbetts – shared on Facebook that he recently was re-acquainted with his BIG BROTHER from the “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint.” Mark stated it was a spectacular moment for him and felt compelled to share this story with his family and friends. Thank you Mark for letting me share this story here.

Mark and Big Brother Larry

Mark and Big Brother Larry

Since reconnecting with Larry and Gloria Polzin, it prompted Mark to reflect on his childhood in Flint, MI…what it was and what it could have been…if he had not been so blessed to have Larry, Gloria and their family in his life while growing up.

These are Mark’s words:

Back in the 60’s, growing up in a single-parent household was far from the norm and nowhere where it is today. While single mothers were usually “forced” to wear the hat of mom and dad, not many mom’s took their fatherless son to cub scouts, camping or threw the football around (My Ma was an exception, believe me). But my Ma, realizing I needed a POSITIVE male influence in my life, contacted the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint. To this day I can remember meeting Larry for the first time; like it was yesterday.

I was at Stevenson Elementary, in the 2nd grade, and was called to the office (honest… I DID NOT put that frog down her dress!!). I walked in and saw the school counselor, my mom and this “man” in the office. That is when I met Larry Polzin for the first time…my BIG BROTHER!!!

For years Saturday mornings consisted of Larry picking me up in his red Cutlass 442. We went bowling at Panorama Lanes, horseback riding at Sherwood Forrest, pan-cake breakfasts at Sugarbush, over-night canoe trips on the Au Sable or Rifle rivers, and church on Sundays when Ma could not take me.

Of course I could never forget the first time Larry took me to his parents farm. I saw my future dinner running around the farmyard with its’ head cut off (it put new meaning to a 2-piece and a biscuit!!). Even though Larry worked 5 days a week, had a wife and 2 young daughters…he always made time for me, sharing his family and life with me. We rarely missed spending time together every weekend.

When I was 12 and headed into Junior High, Larry and his family moved out into the country. This made it somewhat difficult to see me on a regular basis; but I was in my teen years and busy doing everything with my friends, so we saw each other now and then, and that was OK with me. I stayed active in the Big Brothers program and eventually gained another BB when I was 15, Mike Snyder. “Snyde” was a grad student at GMI Institute and more of a bigger teenage brother, while Larry was definitely my much needed father figure.

As I look back on what both of these phenomenal men did for me, both directly and indirectly, I could never do enough to thank them. There is a part of Larry that has been instilled in me for years and his dedication to his family and that of a loving Dad is part of it.

While scrolling down my list of Facebook friends and family, I know many of you who are active in helping others. Whether it be through church, your own children’s schools, sports programs …or if you are the mom/dad where the neighborhood kids gather, eats you out of house & home and gets the much needed hug; please do me a favor…..DON’T STOP!! You are definitely making a positive difference in another child’s life.

For my friends whose children have moved on or you are retired and have too much time on your hands, please consider the Big Brothers/Big Sisters in your community. One day, each and every child is faced with a decision: do I go right or left, good or bad, this path or that path. Your influence will hopefully lead that child down the right path. I know the influence of Larry and Mike led me down the right path multiple times!!

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