The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines serendipity as the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. Bruce Latterell defines serendipity as Big Brothers Big Sisters.
For nearly six years, Bruce has been matched with Keagan, and their relationship is one that neither Bruce or Keagan realized they needed in their lives.
Keagan’s mom, Katie, signed him up for Big Brothers Big Sisters when he was nine years old, and she had one request for Bruce when they were first introduced: consistency. Katie wanted someone in Keagan’s life not only for the male influence, but also to be a rock, and a consistent figure.
Bruce quickly became that consistent figure. Keagan was nervous and didn’t want to talk in the initial match meeting, but everyone agreed they were still a great fit. Keagan was still nervous the first few times he and Bruce hung out, but he slowly came out of his shell. The duo started meeting weekly – Monday is still their standing day to get together. Every week for almost six years, Bruce has shown up at Keagan’s house, and every time he learns more and more about his Little Brother.
For his consistency and dedication to Keagan and BBBS, Bruce is the 2024 Central Minnesota Big Brother of the Year and the 2024 Minnesota Big Brother of the Year. He moves on to represent Minnesota in the national competition, and the national mentors of the year will be announced in June at the national conference in Dallas.
Several years after they were matched, Keagan lost several family members in a short period of time, but Bruce never missed a Monday hangout, and showed up at the family’s door at 4 p.m. each week. Katie credits Bruce with helping to keep Keagan going by keeping him active and giving her son someone else to talk to; another adult in his life that he learned to trust.
Keagan is a very social, outgoing kid, and with Bruce’s help he found ways to channel that social energy for good. He received a book about tying balloon animals one year, and would tie animals for customers whenever he and Bruce went to the local Subway. That summer, Bruce signed Keagan up to tie balloons at Foley’s summer in the park events. At the party, Keagan soon had a line of kids waiting for his animals, Bruce had to recruit two adults at the party to help blow up the balloons, and Keagan tied 400 animals until his fingers gave out.
To keep Keagan busy and give him an outlet for extra energy, Bruce introduced him to the great outdoors. They enjoy biking, hiking and skiing, and in the winter when Keagan was little they went sledding – Bruce estimates the pair has sledded down every hill in the St. Cloud area. As Keagan grew up, Bruce taught him how to cross country ski and snowshoe.
A few years ago, Keagan and his family moved into a house, so Bruce taught Keagan how to mow the lawn. Now, they mow or shovel as needed each week before setting off for their weekly adventure, and they built a wooden picnic table so the family could enjoy their yard together.
As Bruce has introduced Keagan to more activities and shown him how to do various projects around the house, Keagan has taken an interest in how things work. He recently told his mom that he’s interested in going to college to be a mechanic – something he’d never brought up before. Katie attributes this newfound interest in college and building a plan for his future to Keagan’s time with Bruce.
Katie isn’t the only one who’s noticed how Bruce’s guidance has shaped Keagan. While Bruce is in awe of Keagan’s social skills and his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone, and his willingness to try new things and pick up new hobbies, Keagan credits Bruce with helping him grow all of those skills.
“If I never had a Big, I would be very different,” Keagan said. “Bruce has helped me develop social skills and more ways of understanding people, which I’ve been using every day whenever I talk to someone. He helped me widen my understanding of the world and what’s going on around me at all times.
“I strongly recommend everyone try enrolling in Big Brothers Big Sisters at least once, and who knows: it might change their life like it did mine.”