A big brother’s influence

Kyle and NateKyle Z. recently attended a meeting that could make or break the possibility of a college football career — just not for him.

Kyle, an Area Manager with the Southwest Florida group, already had his heyday as a Division I college athlete. So what led him to attend a parent/teacher conference at Fort Myers High School? The opportunity to advocate for his Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) little brother, Nate.

“When Nate asked if I could come meet with his teachers to discuss how to improve his grades so he could be academically-eligible to play football again, I didn’t even think twice,” says Kyle. “Sometimes you have to work to create new opportunities, so I’m doing everything I can to help him succeed.”

Enterprise – and Kyle – form a connection

About two years ago, one of Nate’s teachers selected him as a promising candidate to receive mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Beyond School Walls program. This is where Kyle, and Enterprise, enter the picture.

The Southwest Florida group began supporting BBBS of the Sun Coast when Group Rental Manager, Tyler H., joined the nonprofit’s corporate board. After Tyler was promoted out of the group, the new GRM, Cole S., took over the board position. In 2016, BBBS asked the group to support a new program – Beyond School Walls. Now in its second year, the Group adopts about 12 Fort Myers High School students, like Nate, every year.

Kyle describes his mentor experience as incredible – he bonded with his little brother right off the bat.

“We both love sports, fishing and being outdoors so we connected right away,” says Kyle. “Plus, Nate’s dream is to play collegiate football, so the fact that I played Division 1 baseball at Stetson University just gave me more insight as to how I could use my experience to help guide Nate in the right direction.”

The program

As part of Enterprise’s support of the program, Kyle and other volunteer mentors from Southwest Florida’s administrative office host workshops for the students once a month covering topics such as career-building advice and how to stay on track for graduation.

“We bring in speakers to help open the students’ eyes to different experiences, opportunities and a lifetime of potential they otherwise may not have encountered,” says Crystine G., Human Resources Manager. “We really strive to put a program together to benefit them and their future, regardless of their social or economic background.”

Human Resources Generalist Patti G. agrees. “The students in our program have so much promise, they just need a leg up,” she explains. “To showcase the possibilities, we feature guest speakers who have meaningful messages to share.”

Reaping the benefits

The mentees are soaking up all the knowledge, too. “We’ve had two students accepted into college, one student requested to job shadow a financial advisor who spoke to the group and another asked to learn more about our Business Rental team,” explains Patti.

With so many personal successes along the way, the Southwest Florida team requested and received additional BBBS funding through the Enterprise Holdings Foundation to support the Beyond School Walls program. The grant helps to cover the costs of transporting the students to and from the Group’s headquarters and other program fees.

Making the team

Thanks to the Southwest Florida group connection with a great organization and Kyle’s compassion, Nate is headed toward the end zone and ready to score.

“At the parent/teacher conference, I met with seven teachers and the football coach to see how we could help Nate improve,” Kyle says. “We rearranged some of his schedule so he could be with teachers who could offer more help, discussed after hours tutoring and talked about him sitting in the front row of all of his classes.

“I think all the teachers were a little surprised at how young I was when I first introduced myself as Nate’s Big Brother, but once they learned I hold Nate accountable for turning in his homework and check on his grades, they were extremely thankful I was there to support him.”

It was Kyle’s first parent/teacher experience, but one he says he was proud to be asked to join. “It’s rewarding to see Nate’s hard work pay off. He’s on track to regain eligibility for spring football. I’m so happy to play a small role in his success and can’t wait to see him play ball.”