It starts with a Little…
Big Brothers and Sisters is a non-profit whose goal is to help all children reach their potential through one-to-one relationships, or matches, with volunteer mentors. While their tag line is ‘It starts with a Little’ – the Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BBBS) experience touches the lives of many. Naturally focus is primarily on the ‘little’ brother or sister, however, the relationships fostered through BBBS also touch the parent, siblings, adult ‘match’ and beyond. In Dallas, twenty-one years ago, Mary Ann made the generous and loving decision to enroll Jennifer in BBBS. It was my good fortune to be matched with Jenny – which led to friendships and bonds of a lifetime. And if you are wondering…YES – Jenny was a beautiful 7-year-old little girl and I most certainly started my mentoring at a ‘youthful’ age!
My heart is overflowing with happiness to share that Jennifer is now a college graduate, successful professional woman and wife – now living with her husband in Kauai. I am counting the days until our ‘reunion’ visit on her island home. She is an intelligent, caring and beautiful woman – inside and out. From the interview below with Mary Ann, you’ll see that Jenny is clearly blessed to have a mother whose extraordinary love for her daughter allowed me to play a small role in their lives. I am forever blessed because of that decision Mary Ann made over two decades ago. Mary Ann’s words below express it so beautifully.
Why did you choose to enroll Jennifer in the Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BBBS) program?
I chose to enroll Jennifer in BBBS after I had been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Fearful of not knowing of how sick I could be, I began searching for ideas and found the agency, BBBS. At the time, I was a single parent and she was estranged from her dad.
What were your hopes/expectations? AND how did the experience compare to your expectations?
I was hopeful that the program would give Jenn exposure to experiences places I couldn’t provide. I expected her to go on outings and learn from her mentor. The experience completely surpassed my expectations! Joy was without a doubt the BEST match we could have asked for! I believed God had selected Joy for Jenn. It was the PERFECT match. Joy challenged her to be her absolute best and to not settle for anything less. I believe in my heart that Jenn is the goal-minded, go- getter, compassionate person she is today because of Joy. Joy was the best thing that happened to us!
How has the BBBS program impacted Jennifer? And on a related note, have you noticed any impact / influence on you and your family?
The impact it had on Jenn prepared her through the rest of her adult life. There is a saying teach one to fish and they will never go hungry. That’s how I feel Joy’s presence influenced her. I attribute a lot of Jenn’s success to Joy being in her life. Jenn, and our household, learned by Joy’s example throughout the years of being in our life. I was less stressed and could spend more time with her older sister, April. We learned what it was to be punctual, proper, respectful, kind – as Joy modeled it. We, at home, learned and benefited by Joy’s example though her being in Jenn’s life!
What ‘words of wisdom’ or advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in the Big Brothers & Sisters program?
I would highly recommend this program to any struggling, single parent out there. My advice is to pray first for a good match…being hopeful and realistic of what BBBS has to offer. I also highly suggest following all the rules and guidelines of this program to get the most benefit for the whole family.
Finally I’d like to share this about Joy…. She is an extraordinary person. I so admired her commitment and diligence to Jenny and our family. She went beyond the call and I am forever grateful! Joy graced us with her presence and I can’t say enough! We have been blessed by her and I don’t think she knows that. Now, looking back, she’s never been out of our lives and continues to give of herself.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series featuring Jenny and our reunion in Kauai!
To learn more: Visit the BBBS website to learn how you can support and get involved in your community