Big Sister Lauren and Little Sister Zuli have been getting to know each other since November 2021. They’ve shared lunches, special school events, birthdays, and Big Brothers Big Sisters events together, forming a special bond. Having Lauren as a Big Sister has helped Zuli build her confidence, improve her friendships with her classmates and feel better about herself in school. Lauren and Zuli love spending time together and are always making plans for the next time they hang out!
Big Sister Tracy and Little Sister Nancy have been matched since December 1, 2018. In their 3.5 years together, they have been through many changes and obstacles, but Tracy remains a constant source of guidance and support for Nancy. Although Nancy is quiet by nature, Tracy found ways to engage her, and their bond has grown stronger now that they are able to regularly meet in person again. In the early years, they read Fancy Nancy books together. Now Tracy reads up on Nancy’s favorite “boy band,” BTS, and a bracelet at the end of the school year. Nancy wears the bracelet every day.
Little Brother Rustem and Big Sister Patricia have been matched since the first day of the Beyond School Walls: Workplace Mentoring Program, February 29, 2019. Patricia watched Rustem receive his Associate’s egress from RCSJ. He has now been accepted into the United States Naval Academy Prep School. Patricia helped Rustem learn how to reach outside his comfort zone and get to know new people. Now he has tried starting off with a smile when he meets someone new, just like Patricia suggested. She also encouraged him to participate in senior year milestones such as prom and the senior trip to Orlando, even though he hesitated at first. He told her he was glad she encouraged him and is thankful for her wisdom and guidance.
Big Sister Sue and Little Sister Nayeli have been matched since October 31, 2019. This past school year Sue was there to make Nayeli’s first week at school more comfortable. In addition, she was able to assist Nayeli and her family find the help she needed in the midst of the challenges presented by COVID and remote learning while supporting Nayeli and her family’s emotional needs. Nayeli said that she really likes her teacher, classmates, and school, and she is adjusting well thanks to Sue’s support and encouragement. Sue has been exactly what Nayeli needs since the day they met.
Priscilla and Brianna are matched in the Mentor2.0 program. Concerned for Brianna’s future, Priscilla researched her academic status and how to encourage her to further her education. Priscilla found out that Brianna only needed 2 years of college to get her bachelor’s degree thanks to the college credit she earned during high school. This made college seem less daunting, and now Brianna is considering putting in the two years of school to earn a degree instead of entering immediately into the workforce. Looks like she may be college bound now!
Maria and Madison participate in the Beyond School Walls: Workplace Mentoring program and Mentor2.0. They spend time talking and making plans for Madison’s future. Maris is continually impressed with Madison’s maturity, organizational skills, and focus on the future, she serves as a sounding board as Madison works out the details of each next step. While Madison may tend to put a lot of pressure on herself to do well, having a Big like Maria who believes in her and can give her years of perspective has proved invaluable.
On May 15, 2015, Matt and Stjepen met for the first time. The team chose Matt for Stjepen so that Stjepen could have a male role model to help him explore new interests and hobbies and help him develop the ability to express his feelings. Matt did not just take Stjepen to sports games, museums, and lunches, he went out of his way to make sure the experiences were memories Stjepen would never forget. Matt has always allowed Stjepen to be exactly who he is, never trying to change him or ask him to fill in the silence during car rides to and from their excursions. He has given a lonely child an incredible experience, provided a safe and comfortable friend with whom to confide when Stjepen chooses to talk and modeled for Stjepen what it means to work hard doing after your dreams. Matt taught Stjepen the basics of how to drive and arranged for Stjepen to have lessons with a local driving school to make sure he was ready to get his driver’s license at age 17. Stjepen is on track to graduate high school next year with licenses in the automotive program.
This year we honor Big Sister Arlene as Big Sister of the Year. Arlene has served as the program liaison for the School Based Mentoring Programs at her school for nearly 20 years and has recruited many to volunteer as Bigs to the students throughout her tenure. Her match with Trinity began on October 5, 2011. Teachers and other counselors were concerned about Trinity’s emotional outbursts, insecurity, and trouble adjusting to school. Arlene provided Trinity to have lunch with her and retreat to the office when the school day became too much for her. Arlene helped Trinity to learn boundaries and how to interact with others more appropriately. IN December of 2016, Arlene and Trinity’s match transitioned to the Community Based Mentoring Program, as they could no longer meet at school. Arlene continues to help Trinity reach her full potential, reminding Trinity of her value and plans for her future.
Wayne Knight became interested in Big Brothers Big Sisters through a Big Sister who was already involved in the program. Wayne attended a fundraiser called “Rise and Shine Breakfast”, heard about the program there and decided to apply. Wayne was introduced to his Little Brother, Zyshonne, on February 18, 2009 through the School Based program. Wayne’s involvement with the agency goes beyond being a Big Brother. He has been a multi-year donor for the agency. He always makes the time to help out with Big Brothers Big Sisters activities and events. We can count on him whenever extra help is needed.
“I am thankful for taking that first step and moving from thinking about being a Big Brother to becoming one. Each life touches so many others and Zye has certainly touched my life and others around me. I am humbled every time we see each other, he has helped me grow as a person and for that I am thankful every day.” – Big Brother Wayne
“This program has been a great experience for me and I would encourage any up and coming high school student to join it. It makes you feel good to be involved with your community in a supportive way.”
High School Big Brother, Owen
“I love hanging out with my Little! She doesn’t care what we do as long as she is with me.”
Big Sister Sheila
“A lot of things would be different in my life but, thanks to Arlene, my life is so much better with her in it.”
Trinity, Little Sister to Arlene
“I love having the pleasure to experience meeting with my Big every week! We played games, got to know one another’s hobbies, our likes and dislikes and got to spend time with one another! Last year was really a great year!”
Little Sister, Emily
“I have been able to talk to Matt about things I wanted to learn. Matt gave me an older male figure in my life when I did not have one”
Stephen, Little Brother to Matt
Big Brothers Big Sisters matches school age children with mentors in professionally supported one-to-one relationships. We target the children who need us the most, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty, lose of a parent, and coping with parental incarceration. Our services are very unique in their combination of informal friendship with the support of professional case management.