Brotherly bond

Desiree Bartoe

Big Brothers & Sisters mentor area children

Kyle Rosencrance, Jay McGee, sports and management recreation graduate student, and brother Will McGee, senior finance major, share a moment on the basketball court. The McGee brothers enjoy playing basketball, bowling and golfing with their “little broth

Credit: John Proppe

Like many 11-year-old boys his age, Kyle Rosencrantce’s interests are basketball and beating up his older brother. In hopes of discouraging the latter, Kyle’s mom decided, with the help of Portage County’s Big Brothers & Sisters, to provide Kyle with brothers he could no longer torment.

This is where senior finance major Will McGee and sports and recreation management graduate student Jay McGee stepped in.

As brothers, Jay and Will support one another and value their friendship.

They decided they wanted to share their commitment with someone who was in need of a mentor.

They both volunteered for Big Brothers & Sisters, a one-on-one (or in this case, two-on-one) mentoring program in Portage County.

“My brother and I are so close, and we wanted to volunteer so we could give that to someone else,” Jay said. “Plus, I am the baby in my family so I always wanted a little brother.”

Big Brothers & Sisters matched the brothers with Kyle in June.

“Studies show that young children need at least two other adult figures in their lives besides their parents,” said Andrea Neidert, executive director of Big Brothers & Sisters. “It gives them someone else to look up to and learn from.”

Jay, Will and Kyle meet about three or four times a month to play basketball, bowl or participate in some other activity together.

“I like that they are older,” Kyle said. “They are really fun to play with, and we do some really cool stuff.”

Jay and Will both wanted to be active with their little brother, Will said. But Kyle was not exactly talkative on their first meeting, Jay said.

“The first time we met he was so quiet and didn’t say anything,” Jay said. “We went bowling, and I don’t know if he said one word the whole time.”

Kyle slowly became more outgoing and talkative.

“Kyle has definitely opened up a little more and his confidence is growing,” Will said. “He is learning social skills and improving on his basketball skills, too.”

Kyle also noticed a difference.

“I really like to play basketball with them,” he said. “It, too, keeps me away from beating up my brother.”

According to its Web site, Big Brothers & Sisters is designed “to develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people.”

The organization matches brothers and sisters one-to-one. However, because of time constraints between school, work and Jay’s wrestling commitment, the brothers thought it would be more efficient for them both to be paired with Kyle.

“One of the beneficial things about Big Brothers & Sisters is our kids get to experience positive interactions and positive relationships between the mentors and their friends or their family. This is something they may not see at home,” Neidert said. “For instance, like in this case, the positive relationship between the brothers is good for kids to see.”

Big Brothers & Sisters is unlike most volunteer positions because it doesn’t impose time constraints. Mentors can meet with their little brother or sister three times a month whenever they want, wherever they want, Will said.

“You get a different perspective from the little kids because you are around them all the time and are able to interact with them,” Will said. “It is nice knowing you are able to give someone guidance that they normally would not have.”

Students interested in the Big Brothers & Sisters program can call (330) 296-6655 for more information.

Contact social services reporter Desiree Bartoe at [email protected].


Big Brothers & Sisters also offers another program called Cars for Kids. The organization collects unwanted running and non-running, cars, trucks and vans from the local community.

It has collected six vehicles in the last 10 days. To donate, participants need a title and keys to the vehicle. Call (330) 296-6655 and Big Brother & Sisters will pick up the vehicle within three days. Donors will also recieve a tax deducation letter for their services.