“If I never had a Big like Matt in my life, I would never have done and experienced so many new things. Mr. Matt is a dedicated hard worker. I have learned from him how to work hard for what I want.”
As an only child, Stjepen spent a lot of time alone, but when he was ten years old his mom decided to enroll him in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, where he was matched with Matt. Matt has been a consistent friend that Stjepen can trust. Matt has been an example for Stjepen in showing what it means to set goals and go after your dreams.
When Matt and Stjepen hang out, they go to sports games, museums, and have lunch together. Matt goes out of his way to make sure each experience creates a memory that Stjepen will remember fondly. With Matt, Stjepen watched a 76ers game courtside, sat in fighter jets and watched them perform in the air, explored nature on hikes in all corners of South Jersey, helped build homes for hard-working families, tried new and exciting foods, and played countless arcade and video games.
While the last couple of years have impacted the world in countless ways, Matt made sure not to let the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impact their bond. He has tried hard to make sure Stjepen continues to thrive in his teenage years. Matt celebrates Stjepen’s successes with him while addressing challenges as they come. When Stjepen turned 16, Matt rallied his friends, family, and the community to give Stjepen an amazing birthday party. He taught Stjepen the basics of how to drive a car and arranged for Stjepen to have lessons with a local driving school to make sure he was ready to get his drivers’ license at age 17. He even took him to the driver’s test, and Stjepen passed!
Stjepen is currently enrolled in the automotive program at his high school and hopes to become a mechanic one day. He knows he must work hard and be disciplined in order to find success. Matt’s support and advice have been transformative and their bond is now more like family.
Stjepen’s Mom shared, “since Mr. Matt became his Big Brother, Stjepen has had more to look forward to. Mr. Matt has been a blessing to my son as well as to me. He has been there for my son for birthdays, holidays, and school functions like choir and band concerts. I see Mr. Matt as part of our family. Most notably, he was there for my son the day my mom died, and without his support, I do not think my son and I would have survived that day. I fell apart and was not able to be there for my son the way he needed me to be. Mr. Matt was there for Stjepen and stayed with us the whole time. Mr. Matt continues to help my son as he grows into adulthood. He has shown my son the importance of working for something that he wants. He has also taught my son that volunteering in the community and giving back is rewarding.”