Finding Support: A Big Brothers Big Sisters Salina Success Story

At 7 years of age, Angel is the younger of two Hispanic children. He is in the third grade at school, where he has struggled with academic performance, school preparation, and overall behavior. He is the son of a single mother; his father is currently incarcerated, making him an inconsistent figure and constant reminder of Angel’s precarious family situation. On the outside, Angel is a loving young boy who enjoys nearly every activity he has participated in. On the inside, however, lie a variety of issues stemming from his early experiences with abandonment. During the years Angel should be out having fun, excelling in school, and strengthening his relationships with his mother and sister, he is instead undergoing counseling and struggling interpersonally to overcome the situation in which he has found himself. Angel’s mother applied for BBBS services in 2011 due to concerns with his confidence, hygiene, academic performance, inability to trust others, deficient interpersonal skills, and low attention span. With minimal expectations, Angel and his mother have been thoroughly impressed with the results they have seen since being matched with Greg Platt.

Lieutenant Colonel Greg Platt is a 53-year-old man who has served in the U.S. Army for over 34 years. He currently lives in Wamego, Kansas with his wife. Despite working approximately 60 hours each week, Greg has been meeting with Angel two or three times weekly. They participate in a range of activities that not only open Angel up to new interests, but show him how to give back to the community and learn to be disciplined. They are involved in Boy Scouts, visit the bombing range frequently, and visit the military base to see the tanks, aircrafts, and the soldiers in training. On occasion, they will relax at Greg’s home with his wife, and have made trips to Kansas City to watch plays and have a great time. Greg initially stated that he wanted to avoid being matched with a child who has behavioral issues; simply because discipline is extremely important to him He was entirely unaware of the transformation he and his Little would undergo in the course of one year. Greg has seen Angel’s confidence elevate dramatically, his ability and willingness to make decisions soar, and his respect for other people and cultures improve tremendously. As a matter of fact, Angel’s mother has reported incredible improvement in every single area with which she was initially concerned. Though Angel is still battling a fear of abandonment, he now has someone to fill that void and teach him how to be a strong, confident young boy.

The most impressive and admirable aspect of this match is the enmeshment of two extremely different individuals, polar opposites, in fact. Greg has gone above and beyond the call of duty, which he has done nearly all his life. The impact he has had on Angel is irrefutable and measurable. He exceeds expectations and overcomes obstacles that would otherwise inhibit progress. If there is a big who has done more than he is asked, more than is required, and has done so for no other reason than a deep satisfaction, then Greg is that person.

By December 31, 2015, Big Brothers Big Sisters will increase from 10% to 30% the youth served who have been identified as at-risk by Salina Public School’s new Early Warning Detection system.