For the past six years, Bobby Irons and Miles Alexander have built a bond that means the world to both of them.
“I feel like I was him when he was younger,” Alexander said Tuesday.
“We kind of grew together and we were able to get to learn how each other ticks,” Irons responded.
The pair came together through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Chicago. While growing up on the South Side, Alexander needed a strong male role model and Bobby filled that void.
“I guess he led by example showing me that you can overcome many different obstacles,” Alexander said.
Irons says it's important for everyone to have a mentor growing up and the group's CEO, Jeremy Foster, agrees.
“It’s critical to show our young people there is a path there is a different way,” he said.
Foster says his organization has renewed focus, after they discovered they had a waiting list of young men on the South and West sides - who need male mentor but Foster says they have had a tough time finding them.
"We are making a very public push to recruit men we would love men of color in particular in some our neighborhoods we need men to step up,” he said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has made the commitment to match 30 male mentors with 30 mentees in 30 days, but in reality there are hundreds, if not thousands, waiting for a match.
“These guys just want companionship and someone to give advice to them,” Big brother Mordecai Tolbert said.
Tolbert signed up six months ago to become a big brother, after hearing about the organizations push for more male mentees.
He says the match has paid off.
“I can tell he really enjoys spending time with me," he said of his little brother. "I feel like I am making an impact with him.”