Honoring Those in our Community

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SERVICE TO MANKIND AWARD


Each year the club selects a member of the community that would not normally receive recognition an award for their contributions, Pictured above is Mike Matteson receiving the award from club member Reg Dickey.


Mike Matteson grew up in Buffalo, NY in a strong Catholic family, learning how to get along with his 5 brothers. He describes himself as a techy and has spent a career in the telecommunications industry. His hobbies include reading about and visiting displays for music and military history.

15 years ago, Mike said he ‘just happened’ to meet a person who told him about Big Brothers Big Sisters, Inc. (BBBS). Having been blessed by a strong family background, the thought of becoming a mentor for a kid facing adversity sounded like something he was called to do. He was told that the kids often came from single or low-income households or one where a parent is incarcerated. Not being married or having any kids of his own, Mike thought it would be a positive challenge to become a Big Brother to a kid who might need a boost in confidence or just some help in avoiding risky behaviors.

Mike says his family background setting helped provide him with the foundation whereby he could offer suggestions and provide a healthy level of friendship to a little brother. Over these past 15 years, each of his 7 kids was different and each of their family settings was different but there were similarities. Often, the family was unable to provide the time and guidance the boy needed. The reasons varied from financial issues to the parent just not having the time to devote to their child.

For example, 9 year old Victor was one of several kids within a family that was struggling. One weekend, Mike rang the door bell ready to pick up Victor for a Saturday afternoon of planned activities. Disappointment set in when it became apparent that no one was home. No one bothered to let Mike know. Mike had worked hard trying to make a connection with Victor, even teaching him how to properly use silverware during a meal. Without cooperation from the mother plus the day the family Pit Bull tried to “eat his face” Mike decided that he could no longer work with Victor. This is just one story of the many Mike has faced but not all were disappointing.

Another little brother was Lewis whose mother was too busy to be involved in any of his school activities including attending any parent teacher conferences so Mike stepped in and saw to it that Lewis has a representative at the conferences. At one such meeting, one of Lewis’s teachers told Mike that Lewis is quick to tell her about his big brother Mike and how important he is to him. That, Mike said, is my reward.

Currently, Mike is the big brother to Gauge, a 15 year old student at Gaither High School where he participates on the JV football team and the soccer team. Gauge loves sports and so does Mike. Since Tampa Bay has a good sporting selection, any weekend you might find Mike and Gauge at a Rays, Bucs or Lightning game. If they don’t have tickets, then they just ‘hang out’ at Mike’s home watching games or movies on tv. This relationship has worked well for the past 5 years as they have much in common. When asked what were the positive strokes you got from serving as a big brother, Mike said Gauge told him that he had three role models in his life and Mike was one of them.

Over these past 15 years Mike has had a very positive effect on these kids. Who knows how their lives would have turned out without the impact of big brother Mike. We read in the newspaper almost daily acts of violence by troubled youth. Acts either to themselves or to others. Mike’s relationship to these youth will most likely have a long lasting impact not only on them but on the people with whom they come into contact as they grow and mature.

On their website, Big Brothers Big Sisters describes mentors, like Mike, as volunteers who develop strong and enduring relationships that change children’s lives for the better, forever. Mike has demonstrated that and more with his 7 little brothers over the past 15 years and that is why the Millennium Sertoma Club is pleased to select Mike Matteson as our 2014 recipient of Sertoma’s Service to Mankind Award.

About Sertoma
Founded in 1912, Sertoma is the third oldest civic service organization.Sertomans total about 11,000 members in clubs throughout the United States.Every year Sertoma clubs raise more than $20 million for community needs. Through these projects, as well as grants and scholarships, Sertoma clubs return those funds to their respective communities.Sertoma’s primary service project is assisting the more than 50 million people with speech-language and hearing disorders.
Millennium Sertoma Club 2017