Why I mentor: Matt Costigan, mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden Co.

With Mentoring Day at Fenway (Sept. 19, 1:05 p.m.) quickly approaching - an annual ballgame event for more than 700 mentors and mentees from around the state - we wanted to get to know one of our program's mentors a little better.

Matt Costigan is a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, a supporter of the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge, and a Sox fan himself.

MMP: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Matt: I recently moved from Chicopee to Burlington with my fiancée, Wendy. We are getting married this September. I am a terrible golfer but enjoy being out there and am also a big Celtics and Red Sox fan. I work for Lowe's, where I sell appliances. I enjoy meeting new people and helping meet the needs of them and their families. The technology is always changing in this industry and that is just as much fun.

MMP: Why do you feel mentoring is important? Who were mentors in your life?

Matt: To be honest, I never realized just HOW important mentoring is until after I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have learned how kids are less likely to drop out of school, get involved with drugs or crime, and how they are likely to excel in school, further their education, and in many cases, become a mentor and "pay it forward."

I was lucky enough to have both parents in my life. I would consider both parents to be my mentors growing up. Later on in life, I found other mentors in the business world.

MMP: As you know, the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge is an initiative designed to recruit more caring Massachusetts adults as mentors. Which Red Sox player do you think is the best mentor on the team?

Matt: It would have to be a tie between David Ortiz & Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz because of his fun-loving personality and all the effort he has put forth throughout the Boston community with charities and kids in particular.

Pedroia because of his "never say die" attitude and his work ethic. I love that because he is one of the smaller guys in baseball, he feels the need to prove himself every time he steps up the plate. When he thinks someone doubts his capabilities, he is driven to prove them wrong. Even when he was injured last year...he was fielding balls on his knees, not letting an injury keep him from practice, where other players may use that as an excuse to not work hard. He too, like so many Red Sox players, is actively involved in the community.

MMP: If you have personally been a mentor, tell us what that experience has been like. What do you think is the most important thing people should know if they are thinking about becoming a mentor?

Matt: I have been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters for four years. It has surpassed any expectations I had. Since I began the program, I have moved from Western Mass. to the Boston area, but still keep in contact with my "Little," Austin. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, texts, and cell phones, it makes it much easier. We still get together once or twice a month. Since being matched, I have seen so many changes in him. He has become more confident, outgoing, and involved in sports. He's about to enter his junior year in high school and just got his learner's permit. He's a great kid (young man now) with solid character. We have formed a bond that will last forever, far beyond when the official mentorship comes to a close when he turns 18.

The most important thing about being a mentor is making sure you have time (or making the time) to devote to the program and even more important is listening to your mentee and being there for them. It's awesome to not only "do some good" but have genuine fun while doing it.

When people tell me how "great of a thing" I am doing, I smile because it's a two-way street...I have gotten back everything (maybe even more so) that I have given.

MMP: How can people learn more about how to get involved with the program you mentor for?

Matt: I had always thought about becoming a "Big Brother" but never really took the initiative to pick up the phone or go online to take the next step - that is until after I was talking to a friend about it, and found out that she was a Big Sister. I had no idea there was such a need for "Bigs" and men in particular. There was and continues to be a wait list of kids who want to be matched with someone who can make a difference in their lives.

Shortly after this conversation, I went online to www.BigBrothersBigSisters.org and was contacted by the local chapter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County. Please follow BBBS on Twitter and on Facebook. The Hampden County chapter is also on Twitter and Facebook.

The Red Sox Mentoring Challenge Challenge has recruited more than 1,500 mentors since its inception six years ago. Potential mentors sign up on redsox.com/mentors to be matched with youth, and MMP then refers these people to participating quality mentoring programs in MMP’s statewide network. Potential mentors are rewarded with various levels of Red Sox-related incentives at each stage of the match process.