Chris Rutledge, President and CEO of Gulf Winds Credit Union, shares a little about how the Big Brothers Big Sisters program has benefitted not only his Little, Ky’liean, but himself as well.
Why did you decide to become a Big?
During the pandemic, I became more aware of the challenges in our country and the negative nature of the discussions on how to solve many of those challenges. I started looking for a positive way to help by donating my time rather than wasting it by focusing on the negativity. I have raised two sons and missed the interactions with them so BBBS was a natural fit.
What do you and your Little enjoy doing most?
We share a love for interesting “active” outings (escape rooms, axe throwing, sporting events) and both have a healthy appetite. We are currently on a quest for the best hamburger in town.
What is something that your Little has taught you?
Ky’liean loves to take on new challenges and master them. He has a fun, competitive spirit that keeps our outings upbeat. Watching him has helped me enjoy things again that I might have started to overlook.
How do you think our community can benefit from mentoring?
Mentoring can change the future of a young person just through letting them know someone cares and believes in them. Every kid that grows through mentoring lifts the community a little more.
What’s the best piece of advice you would like to give to your Little?
That the whole world is available to him. He can do anything he wants if he stays positive and works towards his goals.
What would you like to tell a person who is on the fence about becoming a Big?
I started down this path focused on what I could provide and didn’t realize that I would receive twice as much in return. I have learned so much and look forward to every outing with Ky’liean.
Ky’liean himself enjoys spending time with his Big Brother and is always looking forward to see Chris. When we asked Kyliean what’s some good advice that Chris has given him is that, “[Chris] has always told me to pursue what I want to do.” Ky’liean said that his favorite part about Chris is all that Chris has accomplished.
Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is a rewarding experience. This one-to-one mentoring program allows you to make a difference in a child’s life, and become a Defender of Potential. Now more than ever, the youth in our community need mentors. There are over 100 kids in Northwest Florida waiting to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister, the majority being boys. It is critical that these children are matched with a mentor to achieve their true potential. It’s time to #EndTheWait.