MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization has paired adult mentors with children for decades. Now the organization in Broward has a new initiative, Big Pride, focused on serving South Florida’s LGBTQ youth.
In this week’s Mentoring Matters, we meet a Big Brother perfectly paired with an LGBTQ teenager just at the right time in his life.
18-year old Trevor Wilson was a junior in high school when he signed up to be a Little Brother just over a year ago.
“When they first told us about it, I thought it was a really cool idea,” Trevor explains. “I was like, ‘oh we should totally do this because I just think it’s a good opportunity to go to a new environment and learn something new.”
It was one of the best moves Trevor ever made, as he was paired with his Big Brother, Dennis Docil.
“I love that interaction with a young person,” says Dennis. “When this came along with the Panthers, I jumped at it.”
Dennis is the director of video production for the Florida Panthers hockey club, which partners with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Broward. Dennis asked specifically if he could be paired with an LGBTQ person to mentor. That person was Trevor.
“I remember back when I was young and his age in high school,” explains 50 year old Dennis. “If I had somebody that I could look up to, that could give me advice that could just guide me, that was gay. I probably would’ve had a much easier time growing up. So, I wanted to be that for somebody else.”
Perfect timing for Trevor, who says he’s always been open and honest about who he is, a gay teen. However, at the time he was paired with his Big Brother he was going through a tough time at home with his parents.
“It’s just really good to have someone who has that experience,” says the teen. “So, if I need help, I could just reach out to him and be like ‘hey, could you give me advice on this or I am going through this.’ He’s there as a helping hand and it really does help me.”
Trevor and Dennis meet each month, learning and sharing about each other.
“We talk about what I want to do in the future,” says Trevor. “I want to be an actor. I want to be on Broadway.”
“When we first met, one of the things that he wasn’t good at was meeting people and shaking hands and looking at them face to face. Looking at them eye to eye,” says Big Brother Dennis. “When you greet somebody, give a firm handshake, look at them right in the eye, and be sincere. It has been fun for me to mentor him that way.”
The LGBTQ connection the two share has really been the bond that has tied them, a happy surprise for both. The relationship goes beyond the walls at the home of the Florida Panthers. Dennis always invites Trevor to outside events with his own family and holiday get-togethers.
“He’s done so much for me in the year that I’ve known him. More than any other person that has ever come into my life,” says the teen, with a smile. “It’s just crazy to think that someone cares about me that much, considering that I’ve known him for a year. Or someone that believes in me so much.”
In addition, for Dennis, the father of an adult son himself, he says being a Big Brother and mentor to Trevor has meant the world.
“He knows that he has a trusted adult that he can go to and he literally tells me everything,” he says. “I’m here for him throughout the rest of his life.”
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Broward says while all the young people it serves are considered at-risk, they knew the young LGBTQ community is particularly vulnerable, facing unique challenges.
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