From Principal to Big Sister

Big Sister Verna and Little Sister Sarah

Big Sister Verna and Little Sister Sarah

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 school, both socially and academically.  Her attendance was inconsistent. Bullies targeted her. Reading didn’t come easily, and she had trouble making friends. Her mom signed her up to be a Little Sister so she could have a positive role model who would help her through these tough times. As a former school principal, Verna had worked with many kids before, but even she admits that this relationship would be different.

“As an elementary school principal, I met and worked with many 6-years-olds, but this was unlike any of my previous experiences,” she says. “Fortunately, the BBBS match support specialists helped us find ways to spend time together that focused on getting to know each other and having fun.”

“Seeing another person blossom into a caring thoughtful young adult is worth every second.”

– Big Sister Verna

The two found themselves enjoying all sorts of outings, both educational and fun. They conducted science fair projects, explored books at the library and blew through writing activities on the computer to help Sarah develop her spelling skills. They also discovered animals at the zoo, snagged tickets to Beauty and the Beast (the play version), and sat in the stands when the circus came to town. Sarah couldn’t get enough of her new Big Sister.

“She is so fun to be around, and every time I’m with her, her smile and cheer just light up the room,” Sarah says.

Sarah was enjoying her time with Verna, but the turbulent times weren’t over for her. For a time, Sarah was hospitalized for mental health issues. Even during these most trying of times, her Big Sister still made it a point to visit and write letters. Sarah’s mother was moved by this.

“Verna gives so much love, time and attention to Sarah,” she says. “She has stood by and supported her through the good and the bad.”

The same could be said for Sarah. When Verna was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatments, Sarah mirrored Verna. She wrote Verna a letter, saying:

You have been an extremely WONDERFUL BIG SISTER. I know that you are having to do your therapy so we haven’t really been able to see each other lately, and that’s alright. I understand that you have to put yourself first and your health first. I’ve been praying for you every day.

The letter is Verna’s favorite keepsake.

“During one of the most difficult points in my own life, my Little Sister was encouraging me through breast cancer treatments,” Verna says. “What a blessing.”

They have grown inseparable, and Sarah’s mom thinks Sarah’s future will be much better because of Verna.

“Sarah is not as quick to give up on school and life and her future as she once was,” Sarah’s mom says. “Verna is the best Big Sister I could have ever hoped for Sarah.”

Early on, Verna was right to think that her relationship with Sarah would be different from those she had when working as a principal. Now, 10 years since the two were first matched, the relationship has also proven to be the most special.

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