Big Brothers Big Sisters Success Stories
She had never picked strawberries before, but she was certain she didn't like to eat strawberries! That was 8 year old Ariana's response when her big sister, Carol, suggested they go strawberry picking together last summer. But the day that followed remains one of the highlights of their match together as big sister and little sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Carol looks back on that day and remembers the abandon with which Ariana ran down the rows looking for ripe strawberries to pick and the beaming smile that remained on Ariana's face while they picked berries. Ariana's mom also remembers that day as one of the highlights of Ariana's activities with Carol. Mom states that Ariana couldn't wait to share her strawberries with the rest of the family and tell everyone about how to pick strawberries!
What many of us think of as “ordinary activities" can be the backbone of building a mentoring relationship between an adult and a child who needs an extra adult In their life to help them to become the best person they can be. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock, Walworth and Jefferson Counties is committed to creating mentoring relationships between children who may be facing adversity in their lives and adult volunteers who want to make a positive difference in the life of a child. Carol and Ariana were matched as big sister and little sister nearly 1 and ½ years ago and both are still benefitting from that match. Ariana's mom states that she would encourage any parent considering applying for their child to become a little to do so. Mom says “It really helps the child to give them another support person in their life". Mom feels she has seen only good results of Ariana's match with Carol. Mom was particularly pleased when Carol surprised Ariana and attended her school Christmas program. Ariana was so excited that she couldn't stop jumping up and down in the aisles! The only words of advice Ariana's mom would offer are to “make sure you have good communication with the big sister so you always know what is going on".
From Carol's perspective, she would say that the benefits for herself as a volunteer are just as great as the benefits for Ariana. “I feel like I'm impacting her life but she's impacting my life! I expected to make Ariana feel good but I didn't expect how good she would make me feel!" is how Carol describes the impact that volunteering as a big sister has made in her own life. Carol shares that she has no regrets about volunteering and would definitely encourage other adults to become a big brother or sister because she can see the impact she makes in Ariana's life. Carol has found her time as a big sister to be “very rewarding" and states that being a big sister “makes me feel so good;I'm really making a difference for her".
April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock, Walworth and Jefferson Counties would like to say THANK YOU to Carol and all of our volunteers in our local communities out there who are pouring themselves into the lives of children. Would you like to make this kind of difference in the life of a child also? Big Brothers Big Sisters would love to help you make that happen. Please contact our office at 262-728-8865 to learn more about how you can become a volunteer.
She just lights up
*NOTE: Names have been changed
Several years ago, Leslie noticed an ad in the Shopper newspaper that caught her attention. She learned that Big Brothers Big Sisters was looking for volunteers for their Lunch Buddy program. Leslie called for more information and the volunteer process was set in motion.
Not long after her application was completed, Leslie was matched with a kindergartner in Beloit. Brianna came from an unstable home life and conforming to the structure of school was difficult for her. She did not get a lot of attention at home, and it showed in her behavior at school–she was often disruptive and uncooperative. Leslie and Brianna began having lunch once a week, and Leslie says “I saw changes right off the bat." She noticed that just the simple one hour of undivided attention was important for Brianna and affected her school behavior. Suddenly her teacher was reporting that Brianna had better focus. Her behavior had improved as well. She wasn't acting out as much, and was happier at school.
It's been several years since Leslie and Brianna were matched, and they're still together. Brianna's now in fourth grade and continues to live in an unstable home environment. Her family has moved several times, her parents have divorced, and Brianna has been diagnosed with ADHD. As a result, she continues to struggle in school with both academics and behavior. However, the one constant presence in her life is Leslie, who says “Brianna just lights up every time I see her." Every week Leslie drives from her job in Roscoe, Illinois to Beloit to eat lunch with Brianna, play games, do puzzles, and just talk. Leslie, the school counselor, and Brianna's teacher are certain that her behavior would be much worse without the support and undivided attention from Leslie.
Leslie says she doesn't participate in Lunch Buddies for herself. She is happy knowing that the program is good for Brianna and that she is providing consistency to a child who otherwise would have none. When asked about Lunch Buddies, Leslie said that “I think everyone should do it! I would encourage employers to allow their workers to volunteer."
"Big" and "Little" Sister Fun
My Little Sister and I have been cooking, dining, and trying that latest craze with children in Lake Geneva, Yogeeze. During the winter months, we usually stay inside and play Wii, board games, Uno, we have attended the movies a couple of times, and also did some cooking. My Little's class is working on their spring concert now, and I am expecting the invite soon. I love going to see her perform. This summer, I'd like to take her to the zoo and hopefully Yerkes Observatory. Late last summer we went to The Domes and she loved it! She was so excited to go that she dressed up for the occasion and wore a dress. 🙂 My heart melted when I picked her up that day, and I'll never forget it.
There are brief moments that we don't connect, but more often than not we can't seem to stop talking and giggling.
Being a part of this organization has been the best thing I have ever participated in, and do recommend it to everyone who asks about my “Little Sister"!
Big Sister Jessica