Roy BendureBig Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, Norman
Most volunteers come to Big Brothers Big Sisters seeking to fill the same purpose: to serve at-risk youth by becoming a positive adult role model in their lives. Roy Bendure is volunteer who fills that role and so much more.
“Coming from humble beginnings, Roy understood the great importance of having a positive influence in one’s life as a child,” said Blossom Crews, Norman-area director for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She described how Bendure overcame great adversity and excelled in school due in part to the influence of his fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Waters. His teacher not only encouraged him academically, but became his friend and mentor into adulthood, even providing regular financial support when he was in college.
“It was this reason that Roy felt the desire to give back to the community, specifically to at-risk youth,” Crews said.
Bendure, who recently retired as an OU transit system dispatcher, has been matched since 2012 to Little Brother Cahill. Now 17, Cahill is a bright young man who has Asperger’s Syndrome as well as highly functioning Autism. Bendure did research on Asperger’s Syndrome and worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters’ match support staff to find the most effective ways to relate with and support Cahill. He has been faithful to meet Cahill every week at the same time, knowing the importance of routine and consistency in Cahill’s life. The pair enjoyed spending time outdoors, fishing and riding bikes around Lake Thunderbird even though there was often little conversation. Bendure longed for ways to reach Cahill on a more personal level.
In 2016, the match had a breakthrough. During an outing, Bendure received a difficult phone call, learning that his mother had died. Cahill could tell his Big Brother was upset and hurting. He put his hand on Bendure’s shoulder, saying “I’m so sorry.” It was the first time in their four years together that Cahill had shown emotional and physical affection. From then on, Bendure has never doubted that Cahill values him, not only as a mentor, but as a friend.
“Roy is a selfless, hardworking and passionate man,” Crews said. “All of these qualities can be seen through his almost five years working with Cahill and our agency.”
About the program: As the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. The program develops positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.