After spending years in foster care, Little Sister Jennifer began living with her mom again. It was a tough transition, and her mom knew Jennifer needed someone else in her corner. She signed her up to become a Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, and that decision changed the entire trajectory of Jennifer’s life.
When Big Brother Randall told Little Brother Henry he would be graduating with his MBA, Henry gave him a big high five and asked if he could attend. Randall immediately said yes. “I knew this was a moment that would be a giant seed in his mind, and if he could see the graduation and I could give him a high five there, it would be a huge positive influence in his life,” Randall says. Randall’s plan worked perfectly. He gave Henry a high-five after the ceremony, and Henry told him that he wanted to graduate high school and college — just like his Big Brother.
From a young age, Little Sister Sky felt her life spinning out of control. She grew up in a house with drug use and physical abuse, witnessed her house raided by police, and at one point was physically abused herself. It was then she knew that she couldn’t live there anymore. She moved in with a friend before finding a stable guardian in a different part of town. She found even more stability when she was matched with her Big Sister Jess.
At the age of 2, Little Brother Baylee lost his eyesight. As he grew up, his mother wanted a mentor for him because his dad wasn’t involved in his life, but she wasn’t sure if there would be a Big Brother who would be willing to be matched with a Little who is blind. Big Brother Al didn’t balk at being matched with a blind Little Brother, and they have been now been matched for nearly eight years.
When Hurricane Harvey was about to hit Houston, Big Brother Andrew called his Little Brother Javier’s mom to make sure they had the supplies they needed. A single mom working constantly to make ends meet, she hadn’t yet had a chance to go to the store to buy things like extra bottles water and packs of batteries. “I still remember when I got home from work and looked at the food and the necessary things that Andrew had brought us,” Javier’s mom says. “I wanted to cry because only a good-hearted person does that for other people and that person is Andrew.” The action was just another on the long list of times Andrew has been there for his Little Brother Javier and his family.
Just as her match with her Little Sister Amari was approaching the one-year mark, Big Sister Lindsay got some big news – she would be starting a new job. The one catch was that she’d have to move two hours away. The last thing she wanted to do was end her relationship with Amari, who had already experienced so much loss and change in her life. Faced with the decision of closing her match with Amari or seeing her less often, Lindsay talked through the options with their Match Support Specialist and then Amari’s grandmother before deciding to keep the match going and making the most of their less-frequent visits.
When Little Sister Saleen was 6 years old, she lost her father. At school, her teacher knew she wasn’t coping well with the loss, so they referred her to Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was matched with Myra, who became her Big Sister and began visiting her at school once a week. The two connected instantly, but their match hasn’t been without obstacles. Early on, Myra noticed patches of Saleen’s thick brown hair were missing, and discovered she was pulling out her hair to cope with the loss of her father. With the guidance of her Match Support Specialist, Myra decided to bring supplies to Saleen’s school and help her make a memory book about her father, so they could talk about the happy, positive memories she had of her dad. In June, when Myra was recognized as the National Big Sister of the Year, Saleen stood confidently next to her as she accepted the award and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
When Monterro was 6, he was already reading at a fifth-grade reading level. Monterro’s mom was proud of her son’s intelligence, but as a single parent with health problems, she feared not being able to help Monterro reach his full potential. She heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters and signed Monterro up to be a Little, hoping that a Big Brother might be able to do for Monterro what she couldn’t. Her expectations were exceeded when he was matched with Big Brother Kyle.
One afternoon over burgers, Little Sister Alejandra shared with her Big Sister Jessica a story that changed their relationship and their entire lives. Jessica remembers her heart breaking as Alejandra revealed to her that she was experiencing a situation at home that no child should ever have to endure. “It still feels surreal, six years later, but I went into autopilot in contacting Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Jessica says. “With the help of my match support specialist, steps were taken to ensure Ale’s safety.” Alejandra is in a much safer place now, partly because she was able to open up to a trusted adult, her Big Sister. Building that trust took Big Sister Jessica’s time and dedication.