Local Broker Also Doubles as a ‘Big Brother’

Last year, Maymi reached out to BBBS and within a short time, he was introduced to his “little brother,” Jaylon, who is 10 years old.

Local Broker Also Doubles as a ‘Big Brother’
A summer barbecue held by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Westchester & Putnam last year. PHOTO PROVIDED BY BBBS

When Joe Maymi was ready to dive into volunteer work, he knew right away where he would start. The Associate Broker with Howard Hanna |Rand Realty’s White Plains office looked no further than Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Westchester & Putnam. “My brother and I grew up in the foster care system, so I guess it’s part of my DNA,” he shared.

Both boys were eventually adopted by his foster mother, who was also very involved with Catholic Charities of New York. “I understand how kids need a male role model and now that my son is grown, I have the time to invest in a young person’s life,” Maymi added.

Last year, Maymi reached out to BBBS and within a short time, he was introduced to his “little brother,” Jaylon, who is 10 years old. “Jaylon’s older brother had already been paired up with a ‘big brother,’ so he was eager to meet his ‘big brother,’” he said.

Joe Maymi

The initial meeting was via Zoom, and while Jaylon appeared a bit shy at first, the two eventually formed a sibling-like bond. Since both are very active, sports-related activities and events are usually their first choices for things to do together. The pair have spent many afternoons playing baseball, basketball, skateboarding, and bowling. “Or sometimes, we just play board games and go out to eat,” said Maymi.

Valerie Brown, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Westchester & Putnam, wishes she had many more volunteers like Maymi. “We’re definitely looking for more dedicated volunteers—probably more males now for ‘big brothers’,” she noted. “The average age of our volunteers is 49, but we’ve also had some up to 85 years old. There’s really no age maximum.”

The minimum age is 25, but Brown indicates they tend to get mostly empty nesters or retirees. Currently, her chapter has 450 children in need, with 150 of them now in one-to-one matches. “Most of these children are in single caregiver homes with many led by females,” she noted. “There’s a great need for male mentors so young boys will have role models as they’re growing up.”

The BBBS organization works with children from age seven to 17 and it’s not unusual for the “big brothers” or “big sisters” to stay connected with their younger counterparts well after they graduate from high school or college. For those aged 17 or older, BBBS offers its Big Futures program to help young adults on their path to college, other secondary schools or jobs.

Based in Port Chester, the BBBS Westchester & Putnam Chapter has been around for 65 years and is one of about 225 BBBS chapters throughout America. Brown explained that all potential volunteers are “put through the hoops” before they can be matched with a child. “We do background checks, fingerprinting, a deep dive into their social media platforms, Google searches and interviews lasting up to two hours,” she said. “We also ask for five different references.”

Typically, the mentor and child will meet twice a month for four to six hours. “For the most part, both the mentors and the children are thrilled with the program,” Brown said. “For children, their self-confidence has risen, and they have someone to talk to and can help them. They also tend to become more education-minded and understand its value so they can plan a future career.” In fact, Brown indicated that of those children who are mentored, 93% are less likely to engage in substance abuse, and all have graduated from high school.

The local BBBS chapter receives funding from New York State and Westchester County, as well as corporate and individual donations. “Our goal is to help create a stable and healthy environment for these kids,” added Brown.

For Maymi and his new “little brother,” the bond goes further than just doing things together. “His foster mom lets me know if he’s having a tough day, and she told me he really looks forward to seeing me,” he said “She also told me never to abandon him. I assured her I don’t see myself phasing out—this is definitely a commitment I’ve made.”

BBBS is one of the charities supported by the Hudson Gateway Realtor Foundation. For more information about volunteering, please visit its website at www.bigswestchester.org

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