South Charlotte

Big Brothers make a difference

Over the years, Foxcroft residents Bill Lunsford, 40, and his wife, Mary, 39, have contributed to organizations and charities in the Charlotte community.

However, Lunsford wanted to "do deeper" and get more involved, which led him to join Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charlotte. He knew about what a difference the organization could make because his father had served as "big brother."

BBBS is the nation's largest volunteer mentoring program. They match at-risk youth, ages 6-18, with an adult of the same sex to serve as a positive role model. The "bigs" provide stability, encouragement and a supportive presence in the life of their "little."

Three years ago, Lunsford was matched with Jordan, who is now 9. Trust and communication developed and Jordan saw that Lunsford was someone he could count on.

Lunsford, who runs an investment firm, and his wife have three children, two sons, ages 6 and 9, and a daughter, 11. Pretty soon, Jordan became like another family member.

Since the Lunsfords had a busy family life, they found it easy to include Jordan in whatever they were doing.

"He plugged into our family right away," said Lunsford.

Over the years, Jordan has enjoyed many dinners at their house, played with the Lunsford kids and has stayed overnight.

Lunsford is able to provide opportunities and experiences that Jordan would not otherwise have. Jordan has gone with the Lunsfords on vacations to the beach and spent time at their house on Lake Wateree. They have also included Jordan's older brother, Christian, 13. Christian has a great big brother of his own, but the Lunsfords thought it would be fun for him to join them.

Jordan says he was "excited" when he found out he would be getting a big brother, even though he was nervous at first.

Jordan is a good student who says math is his favorite subject. He also loves football and is currently the starting quarterback of his youth football team. He scored his first touchdown and interception. Aside from the activities they do together, Lunsford and Jordan talk about college and Jordan's future. Jordan can recall Lunsford's advice. "Help other people, get good grades and stay out of trouble." Simple, but sage words.

As much as Jordan loves spending time with Lunsford, he is not without a loving parent of his own. His mom, Shirley, 41, is the one who signed him up for BBBS. Shirley is a single mom who after a divorce wanted Jordan to have a positive male role model.

Shirley has gotten to know Lunsford and his family and describes them as "amazing people." She has seen positive changes in Jordan, such as better grades and improved confidence.

"He knows Bill has got his back," she said.

Lunsford is enthusiastic about BBBS and has had friends and neighbors decide to join. Lunsford also joined the board of BBBS a year ago because he believes in the mission.

BBBS does not require a specific time commitment. It could be as simple as a few hours a couple times a month. They do ask for a year commitment, in order to provide consistency in the life of the little.