Big Sister Keri and Little Sister Kiana have found that they both enjoy giving back to the community. They have gardened at a food pantry’s farm, baked cookies for the homeless, and visited with nursing home residents. “Keri and Kiana participate in volunteer activities throughout Lubbock, and they have inspired the rest of our family to give back,” Kiana’s mom says. The match has lasted more than a decade and grown into something special, and it all started with a simple trip to McDonald’s.
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.
Little Brother Jaylen was getting in trouble at school, his grades were low, and his mother was struggling trying to raise him and his two siblings. “I was single and wasn’t working. His father was not around,” she says. “There is a lot of crime, and children weren’t graduating. I wanted more for my children.” Hoping for some relief, she enrolled both of her sons as Little Brothers through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, and Jaylen was matched with Big Brother Michael. Jaylen’s mom didn’t know at the time, but she was getting more than a Big for Jaylen. She got a Big for practically her whole family.
One of Little Sister Hannah’s dreams is to be a professional performer, and last night she sang “God Bless America” at Boston’s Fenway Park. But her bigger dream is to use her career to fund a foundation to help children like her – children who have cancer. “Kids who have cancer, it’s really tough for them and their families,” Hannah says. “I want to help them, financially and emotionally, and make the experience better, and fund research.” Hannah has spent most of her childhood in the hospital, but her dreams, talent, and positive attitude makes cancer only a small part of her story.
Myrone got into trouble a lot when he was growing up, but he says there was always somebody there for him. A football coach. A basketball coach. An uncle. Someone who talked to him and shifted his course. With their positive influence, he stayed focus in school and eventually became a patrol officer and then a school resource officer. Now, he’s a sergeant. He knew he wanted to have that same influence on kids like him, so he studied social work in college. And now his list of titles includes “Big Brother.”
When Amy signed up to become a Big Sister, she envisioned being matched with a 7-year-old. She thought she’d spend time with a little girl who would do crafts and run around on the playground. Instead, the staff of BBBS of Puget Sound asked her, would she be willing to be matched with a teenager? The staff told her more about Little Sister Jasmine, and the more she learned how much they had in common, the more comfortable she became with the idea of being matched with a 13-year-old. Now, she wouldn’t change it for anything.
Little Brother C.J.’s grandmother struggled with C.J.’s attitude when she first took custody of him and his younger sister. “He used to have very little patience and thought mostly of himself,” she says. She knew he needed a positive male role model, so she enrolled him as a Little Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, in Rhode Island.
A BIG Congratulations to Erin Barry, our 2017 Big Sister of the Year! From BBBS of Alaska, she has been matched with Little Sister Noelle for six years. Erin has been an encouraging figure and sounding board for Noelle. “More than anything,” she says, “just being Noelle’s friend/mentor, a person who cares, is all that’s really needed.” Thank you Erin for having a BIG impact in Noelle’s life and being a BIG role model for others.
A BIG Congratulations to Terence Daniels, our 2017 Big Brother of the Year! From BBBS of Greater Cincinnati, he has been matched with Little Brother Terrell for seven years. A National Guardsman, Terence stayed consistent with Terrell even when he was deployed to Iraq. “I am in Terrell’s corner no matter what,” Terence says. “Our relationship has stood the test of time because I always find a way to be consistent in his life.” Thank you Terence for having a BIG impact in Terrell’s life and being a BIG role model for others.
When Big Sister Gretchen first met Little Sister Brianna, she met a shy, smart, curious girl who often got into trouble. Brianna got upset quickly, threw fits, and fought with other kids. Spending time at school and eventually outside of school with Big Sister Gretchen was a big help, and Brianna began to gain confidence and focus.
When Little Brother Brandon was struggling with his identity and realizing he was gay, he wanted to tell his Big Brother Emilio. He was scared at first, but he says Emilio simply accepted him. “From my perspective, that’s my job as a Big Brother, just to listen and be supportive,” Emilio says.