Ordinarily, Big Brothers and Sisters commit at least a year to their “Littles.” Not so for Harris Lansky, who’s still in touch with his not-so-Little Brother, Bob Lavenberg, 47 years later. Also not so for one-time Little Brother-turned-Big Brother, Bob Lavenberg, who was matched to his own “Little,” David Coven, over three-and-a-half decades ago.
“When I first met Harris,” Bob said, “I was a kid whose dad had passed away five years earlier.” Bob’s mother relocated from New York to be closer to family, but Harris was among Bob’s most important male role models. “We’d get together almost every weekend to wash his car and do errands. His dad owned a gas station, and we spent a lot of time there. Harris involved me in whatever he was doing, and it was really good for me. It got me out of the house when I needed to get out. That was in 1969.”
Harris – currently working and living in Miami – became like family to Bob. “He taught me to drive.” When Harris followed his work to New York City, the formal Big/Little match terminated. But they kept in touch, and when Harris returned to Massachusetts, Bob helped him move. “I remember it was during the gas crisis. We’d get as far as we could on the gallon and probably stopped at every rest area between New York and Boston, talking the whole time.”
Today, Bob is an attorney and CPA living in Pennsylvania. Harris, who battled cancer, is currently in remission.
“That really motivated me to share how much this friendship has meant to me,” said Bob. “Harris and I have talked almost every week for over 40 years, celebrating our successes and working through challenges. He motivated me to become a Big Brother when I could.”
Bob remains in contact with David, too. Today, David is a physician living in New York. “We have in common that we’re both fathers of four,” said Bob. And, on a return trip to Massachusetts this fall, Bob had lunch with David’s mother. “We get together for Chinese. That’s our thing. It was good to see her and remember back to the beginning when I was painting houses and working at a bookstore… just sort of kicking around and figuring things out.” Bob credits Little Brother, David, and his experience as a Big Brother, with helping him develop a stronger sense of responsibility and purpose as a young man.
Bob was David’s third Big Brother, with David’s earlier matches ending unexpectedly for different reasons. “His mom was skeptical – could it really work this time? – but we made it happen. The third time was the charm.”
“I took the commitment seriously, just like Harris took his commitment seriously. I learned from the best. So far, my Big Brother’s made a 47-year commitment to me.”
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