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.”
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.
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.
At a breakfast for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware, a mother stood up and told the crowd about her son and the impact that his Big Brother was having on her son’s life. Future Big Brother Tony sat in the crowd and was moved by her words. “It touched me, and at that moment, I knew I wanted to become a mentor,” he says. Tony decided that he would volunteer for one year, but after meeting Little Brother Nasir and seeing the impact he could have, the match lasted much longer than expected.
Little Sister Alexis and Big Sister Sheila’s match began with a hurdle. When it was time to meet her Little Sister for the first time, Sheila couldn’t make it–she was trapped inside her house. “I had a 5 to 7 foot drift of snow in my driveway, and no way to get out, and no way to contact Alexis’ mother,” Sheila says. The two didn’t let the hurdle stop them, though. They were able to meet soon after that, and began going to the movies, learning to sew, and reading books to each other at the library. While the match would go on to face more hurdles, each brought them closer and made their match stronger.
Little Brother Arual was at a crossroads. He had big dreams about playing sports and earning scholarships, but he was also tempted to give in to peer pressure from the wrong crowd. His mom was determined to find something to pull him onto the path towards a brighter future. “I was so worried that he might get more involved with these kids, that I had trouble staying calm about it,” she says. She enrolled him as a Little through Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Opispo County, and he was matched with Big Brother Jacob. With Jacob’s help, Arual was able to get onto that path towards a brighter future.
Little Sister’s Mackenzie’s first meeting with Big Sister Paula fell on Mackenzie’s birthday, which was just the first example of how the match would witness each other’s big life moments. Paula was there for Mackenzie’s graduations from middle school and high school. Mackenzie was there for Paula’s wedding and was excited to meet Paula’s first baby. These big moments have made unforgettable memories for the match, but it may have been the little moments that had the most impact.