After retiring as a school principal, Verna still felt compelled to make a difference in someone’s life, so she became a Big Sister. She was matched with Little Sister Sarah, who was 6. Like many kids, Sarah was struggling with bullies, attendance, reading, and making friends. Though Verna had worked with many kids before, she quickly realized that this relationship would be different and, ultimately, the most special.
Each match between a Big and a Little is special. Each has its first match meeting, its own obstacles to overcome, and ultimately its own outcomes in the lives changed. Each match has its own story, some of which you will read here. Our match stories are called “Big Impacts” because they celebrate not just the impact of the Big on the Little, but also the impact of the match on the families, the impact of the Little on the Big, and the impact of the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency that supported everyone along the way.
Dre’Von grew up surrounded by girls, with an older sister and two younger sisters, so his mother decided to enroll him as a Little Brother. She felt Dre’Von could use a positive male model in the form of a Big Brother, and he was matched with Tyler. Over the next three years, they have visited wolves at the zoo, seen the brightest neon jerseys ever at an NFL game, and enjoyed a perfect fall evening at an MLB game. From the activities they do together to the dedication to the match, Tyler has proven to be exactly the guy Dre’Von needed in his life.
One of the first things Annie did when she moved to Salt Lake City was look into volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As she was going through her trainings and waiting to meet her Little Sister, Annie started learning things about her new home. One of the things she learned was that Salt Lake City has a large refugee population. During her interview with Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, they asked if she would be interested in being matched with a refugee youth. “It was as if the person interviewing me looked right into my soul and saw something that I didn’t know about myself yet,” Annie says. “I immediately knew that I would prefer to mentor a refugee youth.” Annie was matched with Little Sister Sabina, who was a 6-year-old Nepali refugee. The match was intended to be life-changing for Sabina, but it ended up changing both their lives.
Big Brother Roy raised two sons to be independent and responsible like himself, but after they moved out the house, he experienced “empty nest” syndrome. He tried curing it by babysitting his three granddaughters, serving at his church, and taking up new hobbies, but nothing seemed to fill the void. After reading about Big Brothers Big Sisters in the newspaper, Roy signed up to be Big. He was soon matched with Little Brother Cahill, who wasn’t your typical 12-year-old, and began what would become a life-long friendship.
Shannon was sitting in traffic when she saw an ad on the back of a bus that changed her life forever. “You can could be a Big Brother or Big Sister,” it read, and she believed it. She signed up and was matched with Little Sister Courtney. Courtney’s childhood had been tough, with drugs and alcohol affecting her family, and her dad incarcerated at the time of her match. This only inspired Shannon more, as she saw a lot of herself in Courtney during their first match meeting. “She needed a positive role model in her life just like I did when I was her age,” Shannon says. “From that day meeting her, I have tried to provide this for her in every interaction we share.”
Big Brother Jason didn’t start as the perfect role model. He was heading down the wrong path, but turned his life around thanks to his own Big Brother telling him that things will get better. Years later, Jason has become a Big Brother to Little Brother Donovan. After seeing firsthand the power that words of encouragement can have, he offers the same to his Little.
At a young age, Little Sister Grace was adopted along with her twin brother and older brother. Her adoptive parents signed her up to be a Little, hoping she could get a Big Sister that could spend one-on-one time with her. In Big Sister Erin, Grace got that and so much more.
Bigs aren’t the only ones who can be role models. Little Brother Miles is a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Youth Ambassador and is a role model for LGBTQ youth all over the country. Through having people in his life like his Big Sister Ava, Miles knows the importance of having someone you can look up to and who will be there for you. “Having a person who is a little bit older, who has gone through life, who can see you as a person, and how you identify yourself, having that person is not only validating, it’s comforting,” Miles says.
After the youngest of his two daughters left for college, Eric decided to become a Big. He saw it as the perfect opportunity to get involved in a young man’s life. At the same time, Little Brother Mondre’s mother was looking into getting Mondre a Big Brother. Mondre’s father was not in the picture and she felt he needed a positive male role model in his life. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa, Eric and Mondre were soon matched together and soon realized they got what exactly what they were looking for.
Nearly 10 years ago, Little Sister Jasmine was matched with Big Sister Jesse through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City. At the time, attending school was a low priority for Jasmine. If she missed the bus or just didn’t feel like going, she would stay at home. Jesse talked to Jasmine about how important school attendance is, and she even gave Jasmine a ride to school when she missed the bus. Over time, Jasmine began missing fewer and fewer classes, and she began to excel in school. Now, Little Sister Jasmine is a college student with a bright future.