January 13, 2016, Hendersonville Times-News
By: Beth De Bona
Bill Green and Tyreke Dunbar laugh about one of their first outings as a match with Big Brothers Big Sisters, where a fish-stocked pond made it almost impossible to not catch a fish.
Bill Green and Tyreke Dunbar laugh about one of their first outings as a match with Big Brothers Big Sisters, where a fish-stocked pond at a local park made it almost impossible to notcatch a fish.
Now, almost seven years later, their match is almost “aged out,” which will happen when Dunbar, a senior at West, turns 18 in April.
“It’s sometimes important to know there are other people who care; it adds fuel to the fire to keep me going,” Dunbar said of having a mentor outside his own family. “Otherwise it’s just a mother’s outlook, but you need a male’s outlook and experience.”
Green, a retired executive who is an avid sports fan, turned out to be a perfect match for Dunbar, who was more than happy to attend sporting events with him during their outings.
“I was blessed with a great little brother; Ty has never been a problem and has always stayed ahead of the curve,” said Green, who has insisted on inspecting Dunbar’s report cards, which have not yet slipped below the A/B honor roll.
The story of Green and Dunbar is being shared to raise awareness during National Mentoring Month in January, bringing to light the positive impacts of mentoring as efforts continue around the country to match caring adults with youth who could use a positive role model.
“While BBBS requires only a one-year commitment, many of our matches extend beyond that period and, often, lifelong bonds are formed,” said Steve Kirkland, program coordinator for Henderson County Big Brothers Big Sisters. “In the case of Ty and Bill, their match and friendship exemplifies our ‘longer stronger’ motto where the longer the match, the stronger the bond and opportunity to impact the life of the ‘Little.’”
Dunbar said Green’s influence was most appreciated in grades seven through ten, as Dunbar started playing sports and worked to keep his grades high; Dunbar was Rugby Middle’s Scholar-Athlete in his eighth-grade year.
In fifth grade, before Dunbar met Green, his closest male role model was a cousin who was prone to getting into trouble. “Without Bill I might have been into stuff I shouldn’t have been into,” Dunbar said. “He kind of changed my path.”
In retrospect of the years since 2009 and being matched through BBBS, Dunbar said he is amazed at what he’s accomplished.
“I wouldn’t have expected I’d be doing as well in school now,” said Dunbar, who is on the track team at West. “I’d say I’ve reached goals and exceeded them.”
Dunbar credits his mother with doing the big job of taking care of everything needed while he’s been growing up — he is grateful for her steady influence as well as the support he’s received from his mother’s parents, joking that he’s been a “double mama’s boy,” being an only child.
Dunbar has visited NC State with Green, where his son Jordan is an alumnus, to get a campus tour from Jordan Green and go to baseball games; with special parental permission, BBBS allows for overnight visits.
Green often attends Dunbar’s own sporting events, rooting him on with Dunbar’s mother, Faydene. Green also attended a seventh-grade poetry competition Dunbar participated in, winning second place with three of his friends.
“He’s a respectful young man who’s well focused and smart enough to pursue educational opportunities beyond high school,” Green said. “It would be a waste of a fine man if not.”
Dunbar has applied to NC State and East Carolina University; he plans to major in political science or business and marketing. Green and Dunbar plan to stay in touch as Dunbar begins the next chapter of his life, and beyond.
Each would encourage others to consider the possibility to becoming a “Big” or being open to becoming a “Little,” as the rewards are great.
Two options are available for mentoring relationships, according to Kirkland.
There is a traditional community-based match involving in-person outings twice a month, as well as a newer school-based match at area elementary schools where a “Big-Little” weekly in-school meeting might involve help with schoolwork or simply time for friendship.
It was Dunbar’s mother and grandmother who originally requested a “Big” for Ty; his mother has no regrets about the relationship.
“It had a big influence on him,” said Faydene Dunbar, adding that Green gave her son the confidence to emerge from shyness and participate in sports.
“Bill, he’s one in a million.”
To find out more about becoming a Big or enrolling a Little, contact BBBS at 828-693-8153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.