There are many children in Hampden County, from single parent homes, who need positive adult attention. Many feel isolated, lonely and are having difficulty in school. They may be at risk for drugs, alcohol or gangs; and they need an adult who can be their friend, mentor and role model.
Stephen “Woody” Wood of East Longmeadow is a local hero in the community of Hampden County Massachusetts. Wood became a volunteer mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program to Robert in 1992. He had the time and wanted to give back to the community. His Little Brother, Robert, who was 12 at the time, did not have his father in his life. Robert did not have a role model or an adult friend. Robert is now 20 and having a Big Brother made his life more positive. Though their match was closed when Robert turned 18, they remain close friends.
Wood is a full time United States Postal employee with a hectic work schedule. He is a former Little League baseball coach and junior high basketball coach and a new father. Besides these commitments, he was and is still committed to Robert. He has consistently spent time with him on a regular basis. Wood’s exceptional mentoring skills earned him Hampden County’s Big Brother of the Year in 1995.
After Robert’s case was closed, Wood volunteered to be matched with a new Little Brother. This 14-year-old boy was older than many of the youth in the mentoring program; however, he still needed someone to look up to. Wood fit the bill and they have spent countless hours playing sports and sharing other interests. Wood also has been matched with a 10 year of boy whose father had recently passed away. They, too, have shared the special relationship. Wood stays in contact with all his former Little Brothers and participates with them in the Bowl for Kid’s Sake. This is a Big Brothers Big Sisters annual fundraiser.
Wood has been a positive influence to his three Little Brothers as well as other volunteers in his region. They have seen the impact mentoring has had on the lives of youth in their city. The young people see that working hard and having fun is the key to a successful life.