Seeing Dave Fritz walk down the street probably wouldn’t concern you unless you know him. If you did, you’d probably say hello and he’d smile. If you didn’t, he’d say hello and you’d smile. He’s a guy that has that effect on people. You’ll leave his company feeling better about your day, completely unaware that that is his superpower; making people happy.
You’d also be completely unaware that underneath his sweatshirt and jeans, he’s wearing a cape and there’s a large “B” on his chest that stands for “BIG”. Dave Fritz, family man, business owner, Big Brother.
For those that aren’t aware of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, it is, as Dave says, “a really cool opportunity” both for the mentee and the mentor. “I came to the program thinking, ‘This kid can learn a lot from me.’, but I found that’s not the case. I have learned just as much from him as he has from me.” says Fritz.
“I’ve been a BIG to Jaylen for 5 ½ years. At when we were first paired together we would spend between two and five hours together once a week. Now that he’s older and working a job of his own, and we (Dave and his wife) have a new baby, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but I make it a point to get together a couple of times a month.”
Fritz is just one of the men in the Central Minnesota area to volunteer his time to make a difference in a child’s life, but the need is much greater than one man can handle on his own. Nearly 70% of all children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting list are boys and, unfortunately, wait an average of 304 days before getting matched with a BIG. It’s time to Man Up, Minnesota.
“He’s definitely pushed my coward button, though. We went to the pet store one day when Jaylen was about 11 and he wanted to hold the tarantula. He looked at me with the tarantula in his hand and asked me if I wanted to hold it. How am I, a 30-year-old man at the time, going to say no to an 11-year-old boy holding a tarantula in his hand? He’s made me ride rides at Valleyfair and jump off the cliffs at the quarries.”
Fritz, an avid baseball fan, has taken his Little to Twins games, Mall of America, movies, golfing and bowling among many other adventures. “My favorite memory with Jaylen was taking him to my family’s cabin. It was an opportunity to teach him a bit more about my family history.”
It’s not all about going out to do things, though. Many Littles would be happy spending time with you at your home or theirs. Fritz said that Jaylen has helped them put in their garden in the summer.
“Kids are smarter than you think. When it comes to kids you’ve got to keep your wits about you. They’re going to push you. Find out what they can get away with and what their boundaries are. You’re going to have to come up with new ways to communicate and still get through to them. Jaylen has taught me patience and that has transferred to my work. He’s taught me how to be a better worker.”
All at 16 years old. How cool is that?
For more information about becoming a mentor and how you can Man Up, visit Doalotforalittle.org or contact Rachel Johnson at 320-258-4537.