A “BigTime” Hero to the NECAT Family
It was the middle of the night when Anthony “BigTime” Seymour got a phone call. “It was one of our students,” he said. “She was clearly distraught, and had to get out of a bad situation.” The apartment she had temporarily been living in had just been raided by the police and her two roommates were arrested. Her two young children were terrified, and she didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, she knew who to call for help: Big Time – her NECAT case worker and hero to hundreds of people in the city of Boston. “I immediately called the Hampton Inn on Mass Ave and got her a room, then arranged for an Uber to take her there.” Helping people through crises is all in a day’s work for “Big Time” – a name that reflects not only his tall stature and big personality, but also the size of his heart. He will show up day or night. He spent years working for Mayor Walsh’s initiative, the Boston Center for Youth and Families’ Streetworkers Program, and continues to hold a leadership role within the organization. This means he knows who to turn to and how to get help for his clients.
During the COVID-19 crisis, BigTime has helped scores of NECAT students and graduates navigate the system. “I help them find resources they don’t know about—I’m a broker between them and the agencies that can help them,” he explains. Knowledge and connections are only part of the solution—empathy plays an important part as well. “Their world has been turned upside down,” he adds, “I can relate to that—I had some bumps in the road growing up as well.” Big Time feels we’re all living through a time of uncertainty, where the old rules of engagement may not always work. “We have to be creative when we’re trying to help people,” he says. “Not everyone is willing to talk about their problems.” To help keep students engaged through the past few months of virtual learning, he encourages them share photos of the meals they are cooking at home on a group chat – it has spurred on a fun little competition among the classes. These regular checks ins also ensure that BigTime knows when someone needs help securing groceries, is about to lose their housing or needs emotional support. “We can’t always help everyone as much as we’d like, but we can do a lot for those who want to help themselves,” he says with pride. “Everyone here at NECAT is so committed—I’m really happy to be part of this diverse, talented and caring team.”