When “Little Brother” Joseph spends a Saturday with his “Big Brother” Mike Trueblood, he often wears a white, long-sleeve jersey and Nike running warm-up pants, and maybe a blue zip-up-the-front blue jacket to really look cool. The pair are going into their fifth year as a seemingly unlikely Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters match. Trueblood is a recently-retired, 82-year-old Caucasian advertising pro who taught in the highly regarded business schools of USC and Cal State Fullerton and lives in tony La Ca√±ada; Joseph is a 14-year-old African American who is being raised by his great-grandmother Geneva along with seven other siblings in Monrovia. And in 2011, the octogenarian was named the national Big Brother of the Year over mentors in 240,000 matches across the United States. On June 11, Trueblood and Joseph found themselves in the oval office of the White House with eight other pairs of Big Brothers Big Sisters being honored by President Barack Obama.This time Joseph was dressed in a dark suit, dress shirt and matching tie when he introduced himself to the President, shaking his hand, and then posing for a group photo. And all the time the teenager was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he could barely stop smiling.“Oh, it was awesome,” Trueblood recalled recently. “Joseph was impressed. He was knocked out wearing his best suit. While we were in the waiting room, (actress) Betty White, who turned 90 that week and had an appointment with the President, too, came in and gave everybody a big hug. And that made a tremendous impression on Joseph, also. He knew who she was, so he thought that was pretty cool.“But the President literally addressed us in a very friendly way,” he noted. “He opened by saying, ‘Hi, guys.’ He was very conversational, and he was much taller than any of us. He said how much he applauds the Big Brothers Big Sisters national organization for mentoring. He used the word ‘mentoring’ at least two or three times in his comments. And then he said he wanted all of us to know how he appreciates people volunteering their time to mentor disadvantaged kids. Then we had the group picture taken.” ‘Children of Promise’Joseph, in fact, is Trueblood’s third Little Brother, the first being over 50 years ago when he was just building up his business. The advertising man and his wife, Phyllis, also raised four children of their own, and now have a dozen grandkids. The retired executive and educator says mentoring is pretty simple. First of all, you have to be a good listener to find out what problems your Little Brother or Sister is having, but Trueblood admits that can be dicey. “Because you don’t really want to be a substitute dad for him,” he pointed out. “But on the other hand, Joseph had no dad or mom in the house because both were incarcerated. So he was in our special ‘Mentoring Children of Promise’ program.”The solution turned out to be Trueblood working with Joseph’s Uncle Larry, who is a “hard-nosed” former military man big on discipline. Together, they got the adolescent to turn in his eighth-grade algebra assignments on time, and to stop watching so much TV and playing too many video games. The result: Joseph graduated this June with his junior high class and will be a freshman in the fall at Monrovia High, and has promised to be getting all Bs and Cs by the time his first semester report card rolls around. Plus, he definitely wants to go to college. “So between Uncle Larry and me, he’s getting what I would call ‘tough love,’” Trueblood said, before acknowledging, “but not quite the same kind of love that a dad would give him.”On their early semi-monthly Saturday forays, the mentor quickly learned that Joseph loved to read books, the scarier the better. He also observed firsthand Joseph’s first rate hand-eye athletic skills. At first, they just threw a football around. But within a couple months, the avid tennis player had the then-nine-year-old out on a court, and the youth picked up the game like he’d played it for years. Soon their days together always included quality tennis time, as well as picking out books from the local library to read and visits to La Ca√±ada to meet Trueblood’s family.Fulfilling potentialWhen the former businessman is asked what being a Big Brother to Joseph has meant to him, he takes a moment to reply. “Oh, it just like any teacher. I’ve been an advertising guy, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the classroom, too,” he explained. “You get such a reward of feeling that you’re teaching younger people information and stuff that’s going to help them fulfill their own potential. That’s very self-rewarding. It’s good for my ego, and it just makes you feel good.”And then there’s that visit to the White House.“I am humbled and overjoyed to have met the President of the United States,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I want to encourage more volunteers, especially males and financial supporters, to join a mentoring program — the results are outstanding.“As President Obama said in the Oval Office to the assembled ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ of 2011 and ’12, it’s really important to recognize the importance of mentoring to disadvantaged children where one or both parents are absent in the home. What’s needed are more volunteers and more funding to be able to connect with more ‘Littles’ and ‘Bigs.’”After a moment, Mike Trueblood added, “It’s been a great ‘hurrah’ for me, and, hopefully, not the last one. Significantly, Joseph and I will have been matched five years this coming month, with a whole bunch more Saturdays together in the future.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0810/bigbrother/{/gallery}