Tryon man selected as Big Brother of the Year

Published 12:05 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

POLK COUNTY – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina recently announced Bill Smith as its 2022 Big Brother of the Year. 

Smith, a retiree who lives in Tryon, has been matched with his Little Brother, JJ, for four years.  

 Smith met JJ when he was in middle school. According to Smith, JJ was a typical kid — not very organized, not much of a reader, and didn’t have the best communication skills. Since then, JJ, now 17, has made a lot of progress. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“He’s very talented, very mechanical,” Smith says. “He’s got all kinds of ability.”

During their time together, Smith has seen an improvement in JJ’s attitude and social skills, and says JJ has learned the importance of rules and that actions have consequences. 

“He handles people well, better than most adults. He gets along with everyone,” Smith notes. “People have to trust you and they have to respect you. I just hammered that every day”  

Smith says he feels fortunate to be in a position to affect a child’s life and expose him to opportunities and experiences he might never have had otherwise. He and JJ go fishing, play basketball, throw a football, go to games, and go out to eat together. 

“I’m exposing him to as much as I can,” Bill says. “You name it, and at some point we’ve done a lot of things he’s never done.”

Having a Little has made him more aware of what’s going on with kids. 

“I’ve become more patient, more willing to learn, more willing to change and adapt,” he says. “You realize you are going to be wrong and you better be ready to grow. It’s made me a better person, much more thinking about giving and not receiving.” 

Bill adds that he encourages and nudges JJ to get out of his comfort zone “as much as I can without being a pest.” 

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, visit To become a Big or enroll a child in Polk County, contact BBBSWNC at (828) 253-1470. 

For more, contact BBBSWNC Communications Coordinator Paul Clark at or (828) 776-1627.