Anil Patel is on the journey of a lifetime – literally and figuratively.
“I was on a pretty, let’s say, generic path,” says Anil, who grew up in Australia before moving to Vancouver. “I went to business school, and went to get a regular office job, and it was, you know, very much the safe option. I wasn’t doing much independent thinking for myself.”
Meeting a few key people at the right time led Anil to make some major life changes. “I quit my job, I sold most of my stuff, I set off travelling…it was just a great time to get back to the basics.”
For Anil, getting back to the basics included a decision to donate to Big Brothers and other local charities in honour of his 30th birthday. He has definitely seen the value of mentors in his own life – “just the completely different path they can take you on” – and he feels that now, more than ever, boys need positive male role models. “A big part of the last few years for me was realizing that men aren’t very good at expressing emotion,” Anil admits. “It’s a very simple thing that has quite dramatic and impactful consequences.”
Anil loves that he’s helping Little Brothers connect with “male role models who can be a bit of a different mold from the traditional narrative of what it means to be a man…I just think it’s really important and it can solve a lot of potential future issues right at the root cause,” he says.
Anil’s generous donation to Big Brothers is just the latest in his six-year tradition of “reverse birthdays.” As someone who didn’t want to be the centre of attention, Anil had never really enjoyed his birthday, and always tried to avoid it. But then he figured out that he could use his birthday as a way to rally his friends and family to give back to the community. “I thought, maybe I can just do something a little different so I can actually enjoy my birthday,” explains Anil, “and over time it just got bigger and bigger.” Past reverse birthdays have included a draw for a $1,000 prize for friends who donated to the Malala Fund, and – one of our favourites – a draw for free burritos for a year for those who registered to become organ donors!
Right now, Anil is still traveling, searching, and planning for the future. But when he is back in Vancouver full-time, he hopes to volunteer as a Big Brother and take one more boy off our sometimes years-long waitlist. In the meantime, we wish him all the best in his travels…and Happy Birthday!
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