Special to The Jewish News
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hilippe Abejean's day revolves around school
football, Nintendo, lacrosse, the bass guitar,
and other preteen diversions. But this fourth-
grader is thinking about "someone who's nice and likes
to play catch and wrestle."
He hasn't met this man yet, but when he does,
Philippe will have found his special friend. Aiding him
in his search is the Jewish Family Service, which runs
the Special Friends program, modeled on Big
Brother/Big Sister, on behalf of Philippe and other area
Jewish kids who need a role model.
Philippe is on the JFS list of six children, mostly
boys, waiting for a special friend. In Philippe's case it
would be a man who could meet with him once a week
or so and just . . . well, just talk, play catch, see a movie,
or whatever the two feel like doing.
The main thing is that he be there. Philippe's parents
have been divorced for several years and Philippe, who
lives with his mother Jannette Abejean, in Bloomfield
Township, rarely if ever sees his father, who resides out
of state. Though the family includes a grown brother, he
lives in California. So while Philippe enjoys the company
of his mother, grandmother, and college-age sister, he
lacks a father figure.
"I'm often aware of the void in Philippe's life," says
Jannette Abejean. "A wonderful kid like Philippe needs
a male influence." Abejean, who works for an attorney
and is studying court reporting, loves spending quality
time with her son but can't truly relate to "the little
things like playing ball and bike riding — Philippe needs
someone to ventilate with, to do those 'boy things.' "
When Abejean learned about Special Friends in
1988, she arranged interviews with coordinators in the
JFS offices. Philippe was placed on the Special Friends
waiting list, where he still waits today.
Volunteer coordinator Marcy Schneider has been
working on Philippe's behalf for a year. She says factors
such as the divorce rate have more young boys living in
female-centered homes. Consequently the need for male
volunteers among Special Friends has risen according-
ly. "Ironically, we do get a lot of calls from female volun-
A JEWISH BIG BROTHER/BIG SISTER PROGRAM
IS DESPERATELY SEEKING VOLUNTEERS.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 103