BBBSWNC salutes its 2023 Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year – Karla Magaña and Bill Smith. Bill, who lives in Polk County, and Karla, a Jackson County resident, have both been matched with their Littles for four years.
Bill met JJ, his Little Brother, four years ago when JJ was in middle school. Typical kid, Bill said – not very organized, not much of a reader. Not the best communication skills.
Since then, JJ has made a lot of progress, Bill said. “He’s very talented, very mechanical. He’s got all kinds of ability.”
During their time together, Bill has noticed an improvement in JJ’s attitude. JJ has learned the importance of rules and that actions have consequences. His social skills are better. “He handles people well, better than most adults,” Bill said. “He gets along with everyone.”
“People have to trust you and they have to respect you – I just hammered that every day,” Bill, a retiree who lives in Tryon, said. He said he feels fortunate to be in a position to affect a child’s life and expose him to opportunities and experiences he might never have had.
Having a Little has made him more aware of what’s going on with kids, he said. “I’ve become more patient, more willing to learn, more willing to change and adapt,” he said. “You realize you are going to be wrong and you better be ready to grow. It’s made me a better person, much more thinking about giving and not receiving.”
He and JJ fish, play basketball, throw a football, go to games, go out to eat – “you name it and at some point we’ve done a lot of things he’s never done,” Bill said. “I’m exposing him to as much as I can.”
He encourages and nudges JJ to get out of his comfort zone “as much as I can without being a pest.”