For one boy, a Big Brother has made a difference

September 26, 1994|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,Sun Staff Writer

Scott can go through his volunteer big brother Howard Cardin's refrigerator, recite the older man's phone number by heart, recognize the voices of his dinner guests, and call him "How."

Three years ago, the two were linked through the Baltimore chapter of the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister League, which is part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Scott, 11, said he got fed up with another big brother he had had for six months. "I told the head I didn't like him, so she gave me Howard."

Before joining the Cardin family and their guests Friday for a Shabbat dinner, he said it was the best decision he ever has made.

Although a volunteer big brother or sister is committed to spending only two or three hours a week with a little brother or sister, Mr. Cardin spends about 12 hours a week with Scott.

For his efforts, Mr. Cardin will be honored tonight at the 1994 Chesebrough-Pond's National Hero Awards Ceremony in New York as the best volunteer big brother for the region that covers Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland and Delaware.

"I'm very excited, and I'm honored," said Mr. Cardin, 53, a criminal attorney who lives in Mount Washington. He traveled to New York Saturday for the weekend-long program, which includes a tour of NBC studios and dinner at the Harley Davidson Cafe.

Scott's parents were divorced before he was born, and he never met his father, which he said upsets him. His mother decided to get him a big brother when he was 5. "It gets me out of her hair," he said, smiling and flashing his braces.

During the week, he lives with his grandparents in Owings Mills and on weekends with his mother in Reisterstown, but in both places, he said, there are virtually no other children his age.

Together, Scott and Mr. Cardin have gone fishing, boating, crabbing, skiing, to the movies and museums, to baseball games at Camden Yards and to hospitals to visit elderly patients. Scott comes over for dinner often and sometimes spends the night.

"Scott is definitely part of my family," said Mr. Cardin, who is married and has three children and two grandchildren. "As my children were older, I thought it was the appropriate time to be with a youngster, someone I could share my time with and try to help."

This is his second little brother; he met the first one eight years ago. They keep in touch but parted as an official pair when the boy, now about 18, got a new stepfather.

"I have absolutely no problem bringing Scott and introducing him as my little brother, or my friend, or both," he said, adding that he has noticed positive changes in Scott since meeting him. "I see Scott today smiling a lot more than when I first met him."

Scott said Mr. Cardin deserves the Big Brother award -- for helping him with school problems, giving good advice and keeping secret what he tells him about girls he likes.

"He's a kind, tender, caring, loving person . . . and fun," Scott said.

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