Local 12-year-old gets to hang out, share with another guy through BBBS program

Jason Meier (left) and Connor Huff hang out on the patio of the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library. They discovered a mutual love of the outdoors after being matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program about two years ago.
Jason Meier (left) and Connor Huff hang out on the patio of the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library. They discovered a mutual love of the outdoors after being matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program about two years ago. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published July 10, 2017.

Connor Huff has two sisters at home, but they’re, well, girls.

He has “a whole bunch of brothers,” but they don’t live with him.

There are some other kids in his neighborhood, but they’re all younger.

Luckily for 12-year-old Connor, he has Jason.

“I actually get to hang out with another boy,” Connor says. “I actually get to talk to him.”

Jason is Jason Meier, a firefighter with the Huntington Fire Department, the father of three grown children and grandfather of two.
And for the past couple of years, Connor has been his “little brother.” There’s no blood relationship there, but there’s an awful lot of hanging out and sharing.

Connor and Jason got together through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which pairs adult mentors with kids who could use a little guidance, after Big Brothers Big Sisters paid a visit to Jason’s workplace.

“They came to the fire station, and I showed some interest in the program,” Jason says. “My kids were grown. I thought I could surely come up with a few hours a month to have a positive influence on someone.”

It took some paperwork, but eventually Jason and Connor were introduced to each other.

“I think they go by what we like,” Connor says.

The two discovered, among other things, a mutual love of the outdoors.

“He pretty much likes anything outside,” Jason says. “I spend a lot of time outdoors.”

They’ve gone fishing.

“He’s really into fishing,” Jason says.

Sometimes, Jason sends Connor home with a fish they’ve caught. Connor says he takes care of the cooking.

“You just put it in the pan, turn it on and flip it over,” Connor says.

They’ve gone mushroom hunting.

“That was fun,” Connor says.

Jason has a friend who’s a gun instructor, so he taught Connor about gun safety and how to handle a weapon.

“I even got to shoot the gun a few times,” Connor says.

Jason’s saving a hunting trip for optimal weather.

“I want to make sure he sees something,” he says.

Jason has taken Connor to visit the local police station, fire station and emergency dispatch facility.

“I got him into 4-H, just to broaden his horizons a little bit,” Jason says.

One of Jason’s side jobs is laying carpet, and he’s hired Connor to pick up scraps on the job.

They might go to the movies, ride four-wheelers, work on his 4-H project or go out for ice cream.

“A lot of it doesn’t have to be too spectacular,” Jason says of their time together. Sometimes, Connor just rides along while Jason’s running errands.

Like any friendship, it took some time for the two to click.

“It took quite a while to get to where I saw the real Connor,” Jason says. “It took a few months before I saw the real kid.”

Their outings can last anywhere from a couple of hours to half the day. It helps, he says, that Connor’s mom is very flexible in accommodating Jason’s schedule in working several part-time jobs in addition to his fire department responsibilities.

Jason says he sees the friendship continuing “as long as it works.”

“Forever,” Connor says.

Anyone interested in learning more about Big Brothers Big Sisters is invited to attend “The BIG Berg Event,” featuring free drinks, appetizers and entertainment, on Thursday, July 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The berg Ale Haus, 435 Cherry St., Huntington.

To make a reservation, email Alex Clinger at alex.clinger@bbbsnei.org.