Big Brothers, Big Sisters! Honors Those Who Make a Difference

| March 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

Many of us who know Dan Thomas are aware of his extensive background as a successful restaurant owner. He recently retired after selling his Mission Hills restaurant, The Gathering, on Washington Street. A couple of weeks ago I got an opportunity to chat with Thomas over a glass of wine to find out what he’s been doing since he left Mission Hills.

Thomas shared with me that he is adjusting to being retired from working at the restaurant. Yet, he keeps himself active with his special interests and causes. One of those happens to be his commitment to be a Big Brother, a mentor to a young man, who has known for eight years. The young man’s name is Kyle Zimmerman, who is now 15-years old.

Thomas said that when he decided to sign up to be a Big Brother, he wasn’t sure if he would be chosen for the role. He was the oldest interested volunteer who attended an orientation to learn more about the organization and to complete the application process. Thomas was 50; the other men were 25 years of age or slightly older.

When Thomas got the call that he’d been selected to be a mentor for a seven-year old boy, he was somewhat surprised, yet, ready to meet his little brother.

According to Thomas, Zimmerman lacked a father or positive male figure that he could look up to, learn from, and, if he desired, confide in. Thomas said he learned immediately that Zimmerman wanted “a place to relax and be alone,” without his four siblings to compete for space, food and attention. Their first meeting was over breakfast. Every Sunday from that first encounter, Thomas and Zimmerman would get together to enjoy quality time together, which might include moral support, words of encouragement, entertainment, sporting events and activities and good food.

Thomas has seen Zimmerman mature from a youngster in to a young man. He participates in the ROTC program at his high school and is benefitting from the discipline and guidance that he’s receiving. Thomas said it’s rewarding to know that he’s been there for Zimmerman for the past eight years. Consistency, guidance, support and the opportunity to enjoy quality life experiences with an adult male mentor have been good for Zimmerman.

Now that Zimmerman is maturing, Thomas is helping Zimmerman as he selects gifts for his girlfriend and is giving tipping hints for when they go out for meals. Big Brother and mentor, Thomas has definitely fulfilled his commitment to help a youngster becoming a man and hopes that when Zimmerman turns 18 (when he cycles out of Big Brothers) that he will continue to be in his life.

Thomas said he hopes other mature, male adults (50 and over) make the same commitment to be a Big Brother. He said there are lots of youngsters in need of quality role models and the consistent support that he’s been able to offer.

Dan Thomas recently learned that he is receiving the distinguished honor of “Bigs of the Year” by Big Brothers, Big Sisters of San Diego County. Both Thomas and Zimmerman were excited to learn of the honor and are looking forward to the award ceremony.

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