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  • Holly Herring

How Zackery and Kamerynn Became Instant Friends

“I really wish I could just give them all the world,” said Big Brother Zackery “Zack” Willis when asked about his experience with choosing his Little Brother Kamerynn, 12, through the Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters (KSBBBS) mentor “matching” process.

Watch a short video compilation of heart-felt interviews with Big Zack, Little Kamerynn, and Kamerynn’s mom, Noella. This video is one of four in a series of interview videos that can be viewed on our YouTube channel playlist.

Willis and Kamerynn were matched virtually through the KSBBBS one-to-one mentoring program in mid-April of 2020 during the stay-at-home orders. Their relationship developed quickly through virtual conversations about their mutual love for animals, especially cats, which eventually evolved into meaningful in-person outings playing football and going fishing.

Willis said he ended up choosing Kamerynn because, “I saw that we had so much in common. I was reading his file and was like, huh, this guy is almost me, in a way. I think he would be the best fit for me. He likes to play video games and sports – he loves all that stuff [like me]…”

The Best-Fit Matching Process

KSBBBS pairs volunteer mentors (AKA “Bigs”) with youth facing adversity (AKA “Littles”) based off of a “best-fit match”. Meaning, mentors and youth are matched together by professionally-degreed staff with consideration of common interests, personality, location and more between both parties. Utilizing the best-fit method, the Big/Little matches within the mentoring organization feel more natural, are generally more successful, and tend to stay matched and thrive well beyond the year-long commitment.

After the Big chooses his/her Little in the file showing, a match meeting is set up where the Big, Little, and parent/guardian all meet for the first time to make the match relationship official.

Willis said, “I remember pulling up to his house and so– I was excited. I was like, I can’t wait to meet him, see what he looks like [in-person], and I can’t wait to meet his mom and everyone. Because I have been waiting on this since the pandemic – I was like, I can’t wait to meet him and spend some time [together].”

When Kamerynn was asked about his expectations of his Big Brother and meeting Willis for the first time, he said, “He’s the exact personality I really wanted. Nice, energetic – he’s always so fun. He’s always proud of everything. He’s amazing. He’s awesome. I really enjoy him so much. It’s unbelievable.”

Describing his match meeting, Willis said, “Sure enough, when I met him, we did click ‘just like that’… I’d say he was perfect for me; it was kind of awesome.”

Kamerynn adds, “Now I don’t feel lonely…I’m not by myself anymore.”

Motivations for Becoming a Big/Little

Many people inquire about volunteer opportunities with KSBBBS because they are looking for a meaningful opportunity to make an impact in their community by helping local youth.

“I became a Big because I was tired of the everyday movements and wanted something different…I can’t just live my whole life and not do something good. Just sit here and work day-to-day. I want something to look forward to,” said Willis.

“That’s what really brought me off the fence to make that step,” Willis continues. “I don’t want to just keep living life and – you know, I want something to show for it. I want to be able to say, ‘I did this, and I made a commitment and it paid off.’”

Kamerynn’s mother, Noella, shared with us her motivations for enrolling her son in the KSBBBS program: “All he has is his Papa, me, and his grandma. So, it’s kind of hard. I just think that he deserves a good role model as a male. And Zack is amazing.”

“I am just so happy,” Noella continues. “They’ve been talking since the day they connected…he’s an amazing guy. He really is.”

Kamerynn has expressed interest in being a football player when he grows up. Lucky for him, his Big Brother plays football for Friends University and has already taught him a few trick plays.

Do you want to make a difference in a child’s life like Zack? Take the first step and inquire online today.


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