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“Best friends”

“Big Al”

Mason Robinson lost his father when he was only 10 months old. His mom became a single mother working three jobs to raise him and his older brother. When Mason was about nine years old, his mother thought he needed a male influence. BBBS connected Robinson with his Big, Scott Fleming, whom he considers a combination uncle, best friend and mentor; basically, “he’s every cool dude in the world.” They started off meeting at Amy’s Ice Cream, their headquarters on Sundays. From there, they’d take off to go bowling or play a few rounds of mini-golf. Fleming taught him how to play tennis, throw a curve ball, play chess ... Mason could go on and on. More than anything, Fleming took education very seriously. He would remind Robinson to pay attention to school, not friends or parties. Fifteen and a half years later, the relationship is still going strong and they still see each other about once or twice a month. Robinson is aware that not all matches go for that long. “I feel extremely blessed and lucky because Scott and I were just best friends 30 years apart,” he says. Robinson, now 24 years old, is studying mass communications/broadcast journalism at Texas State University and aspires to do sports broadcasting.

Mike McShaffry’s match only lasted about two years, but he considers the experience profoundly influential. His mom found out about BBBS through the church when McShaffry was about 10 years old. His parents were divorced and McShaffry, his younger brother, and sister were living with their mom. His mom thought it would be good for him to have a positive male role model in his life, so BBBS matched him up with his Big, Al Suarez.

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GivingCityAustin.com

His mom thought it would be good for him to have a positive male role model in his life. Suarez, a college student, would take McShaffry and his siblings swimming at the recreational center of his university. “He got me into bicycling, which is something that has been a huge part of my life since that time,” says McShaffry, who met many of his best friends through bicycling. Now 45 years old, McShaffry is the director of product development at Red Fly Studio, a computer gaming company, and he is still involved with BBBS, typically as a fundraiser now. He is also involved with a charity that puts on haunted houses for breast cancer. He credits his philanthropic nature to Suarez’s influence.

Profile for GivingCity Austin

GivingCity Austin #7  

Featuring Austin's 30 New Philanthropists of 2011, plus Spring Art events, How to End Panhandling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women's Storybo...

GivingCity Austin #7  

Featuring Austin's 30 New Philanthropists of 2011, plus Spring Art events, How to End Panhandling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women's Storybo...

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