A Match Made in Manitoba

A donor-supported mentoring agency helped create a friendship spanning more than three decades.

A Match Made in Manitoba - United Way Winnipeg

Stan had just married and started a new career when he made a decision that would change his life—and the life of a boy named Kevin.

Kevin was eight when his mother took him to meet his Big Brother, Stan, for the first time.

“There were a few questions that raced through my mind. What will he look like? What will we do? Will he like me?” Kevin wondered. “Little did I know I was about to receive the best birthday gift I could ever receive. It began a journey with a new friend and mentor that would change my life forever.”

Kevin said some of his fondest memories were going to his first NHL game to see “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky and the L.A. Kings play the Winnipeg Jets, building a go-cart together and then racing it at go-cart derby, and getting to show off his Big Brother to all his friends at his ninth birthday party.

And for Stan, when he made that decision to become a Big Brother to make a difference in a young person’s life, he learned a lot about himself as well.

“Kevin probably believes he got experiences from me, but I got the same from him,” said Stan. “As a young person, he had a different view of the world. He’s a very good communicator, and at the time, I wasn’t. I was locked inside myself as far as explaining my thoughts, and he helped me with that quite a bit.”

A Match Made in Manitoba - United Way Winnipeg

Kevin said Stan has been so much more than a friend and an activity partner.

“He has also been a huge source of inspiration for me throughout my life and has always modelled and encouraged a healthy and balanced lifestyle,” said Kevin.

A Match Made in Manitoba - United Way Winnipeg

“We spent a lot of time being outdoors, camping and enjoying nature,” said Stan. “But we really started doing more of that after he finished with the Big Brothers program, which stops at age 18.”

Though Kevin aged out of the program, it was not the end of his relationship with Stan. They were a perfect match, and today they remain good friends who stay in touch regularly.

A few years ago the former Big Brother and Little Brother went on a three-day canoe trip to commemorate their first canoe trip that they took together over 30 years ago.

Kevin’s relationship and experiences with Stan helped make a difference in other ways, too. Like Stan, Kevin wanted to give back to his community, and he became a Big Brother himself. Kevin also completed a degree in Social Work and today works as Manager of Community Matches for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, an agency partner supported by United Way Winnipeg’s generous donors.

He said he’s still realizing just how many ways his Big Brother has impacted his life.

“Thanks to Stan, I have been able to share my insight of what it takes to be an amazing mentor with my wonderful volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Kevin. “My stories inspire them and help them gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the contributions they make the lives of their Littles.”

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Irene HowardKevin and Stan