PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Longtime WAVY-TV viewers may remember our “Wednesday’s Child” series where, since 1981, we’ve spotlighted children in need of adoption, and kids in single-parent families hoping to be matched with mentors.
We have an update on a child and his mentor we’ve been following since 2009.
We first met 9-year-old Hunter and United States Coast Guard Lt. Sean Murray on Old Dominion
University’s football field. Those two, along with WAVY’s Don Roberts, had fun tossing and kicking a football while talking a little trash about what might have been or what could be — at least for Hunter.
“Back in ’05, ’06, I had three fairly young children and I was going through a separation and
divorce,” said Hunter’s mother, Karen Ferbee, when recounting why she called Big Brothers Big Sisters, and later, the Up Center.
The agencies matched the siblings with adult volunteers. For Hunter, it was Murray, who’d mentored before during his five years in the service.
“Every time I went to the beach, I just stayed up on the sand,” Hunter told Ron Roberts in 2009.
But that all began to change after being connected to a guy who makes a living on the water.
“Now he’s jumping off diving boards,” said Murray.
So, what “clicked” for Hunter?
More than 10 years later, Hunter looks back on that time.
“Sean put me in a variety of scenarios where I’d feel so comfortable jumping into the deep end of a pool. But if you have somebody there that has their arms out waiting for you, to catch you, that little bit of reassurance goes a long way,” Hunter said.
“I think Sean helped him come out of his shell a whole lot and look at the world in a different way,” Karen said.
And how does now-Cmdr. Murray feel hearing those sentiments?
“So proud. Just seeing how Hunter has grown — when he started the mentoring programs to now
as a young man. And he’s got direction in his life. The world is just an open opportunity for him” Murray said.
Murray says feels he benefited just as much as his mentee.
“If you look at all the skills and knowledge that I have learned on how to be a successful mentor,
from the Up Center, it’s definitely helped me become a better parent. Right now, I have 3 children,
ages 8, 6, and 3. And, so as I reflect on my time with Hunter, my oldest is almost at the exact same
age that Hunter was when [we] first met.”
So what’s next for Murray and Hunter? Murray continues his two-year tour of duty for the Coast Guard in Ottawa, as liaison to the Canadian Mounted Police.
And, Hunter? He’ll soon don a cap and gown.
“I’m almost about to graduate,” he said.
While a student at Old Dominion University, Hunter says he majored in therapeutic recreation, while minoring in psychology.
“So, I’ve worked with children, through ODU, teenagers, and now I’ll have the opportunity to
influence older adults. I’ll really be focused on helping others,” Hunter said.
And, yes, possibly mentoring a little boy one day, too.
To find out more about mentoring children, or finding a mentor for your child, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Virginia Peninsula.
On the Norfolk-side, contact Team Up Mentoring at the Up Center.