Have a bunch of paint sticks ever made you cry?
They did for Dwight of Cedarburg.
Recently, a teenager presented Dwight with a homemade paint-stick “shield” with a logo revealing the name “Dwight” in the center.
Dwight got tears in his eyes.
The teenager, 17 year old Nathaniel of Mequon, told Dwight, “You’re my superhero.”
It all started in 2011 when Dwight and Nathaniel were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Ozaukee County’s Match Me Program, which is funded by United Way.
“I have always had a passion for working with youth, so when I heard about the opportunity to mentor through my church, I thought why not?” said Dwight.
Dwight first met Nathaniel when the boy was 9-years-old. Nathaniel had just lost his father unexpectedly and was in need of a male role model in his life. Since then, Dwight and Nathaniel have developed a great friendship by hanging out at the movies, going for bike rides, and attending baseball games.
Dwight’s passion for volunteering has also inspired Nathaniel to give back to his community. Last year, the pair worked together to raise over $4,000 in pledges for BBBS “Bowl for Kids’ Sake,” the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser.
Last year, 91% of youth aged 9-11 who participated in the United Way-funded Match Me Program stated they believed they could make a difference in their community, and 84% volunteered.
“Without the support of United Way, the Match Me program would not be able to find such passionate volunteers like Dwight, who can help shape and improve the lives of youth in Ozaukee County,” said Amanda Kindschy from BBBS of Ozaukee County.
Dwight’s mentorship extends beyond just fun activities. When Nathaniel turned 16 he helped him fill out job applications and practice interviewing. With Dwight’s help, Nathaniel secured his first job at a local grocery store.
Dwight also found a great way to motivate Nathaniel to improve his work inside the classroom. He promised to teach Nathaniel how to drive. “We practiced every day for three hours,” Nathaniel said. Today, the now junior high school student has his driver’s license and is setting goals for what he wants to do after he graduates.
“I really love cars. I want to study automotive engineering and eventually work for Harley-Davidson,” Nathaniel said.
“It doesn’t take an expert to make a difference in a child’s life, just a caring committed adult,” said Jim McLaughlin, United Way Education Portfolio Manager. “That’s why United Way connects passionate volunteers to young people across the region, so that we can fan the flames of inspiration and unlock their talents.”
These days Dwight and Nathaniel may not see each other as often as they use to, but despite that, Nathaniel still knows Dwight will always be his superhero.
“I told him if you ever need anything I’m always just a phone call away,” Dwight said.
Read more stories