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Big Brothers Big Sisters rewarding for kids, adults

Annie Zelm • Nov 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) Len Johnson had no grandchildren -- until he met 12-year-old Robert Jagel.

The 75-year-old retiree lives alone and wasn't sure how he'd relate to someone whose generation seemed so different from his own.

But the good-natured, self-assured boy put him at ease immediately.

"We just clicked," Johnson said. "He's mature for his age, doesn't get intimidated easily. He's very hardworking and knows if you want something, you've got to go get it."

While Johnson looked to Robert as someone he could take fishing on his boat, Robert wanted someone he could look up to, someone who would listen.

With his father in prison, Robert said he harbored a lot of feelings he didn't know how to handle.

That was almost four years ago.

He's now 16 and a junior at Sandusky High School.

He works five days a week at the Krunchie Pickle deli and dreams of a career in the Navy after graduation.

He occasionally writes to his father, who is eligible for parole early next year, but he sometimes catches himself calling Johnson "dad."

"He listens, he doesn't preach," Robert said at the Third Street home where he lives with his mother. "He gives me advice, whether I take it or not. He's helped me with my anger issues, given me a better way to look at life."

Want to help?

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie-Seneca counties always needs volunteers, especially men, to become a mentor. The agency currently has 97 boys and girls waiting for a match. To learn more, visit the website at mentorforkidssake.com, call 419-626-8694 or stop by the office at 904 W. Washington St., Sandusky, to pick up an application.

Read more about both adults and children's experiences with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Sunday's Register.

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