Meet La’Najah and Taylor, this match just celebrated their first Match-A-Versary, and what a year it was. From the DIA to tie dying and water balloon fights, ice skating to baking cookies, these two have had a lot of fun while building a strong foundation of trust. When asked if she would like to renew her match for another year La’Najah answered, “Yes, forever!” Congratulations to both of you ladies on an excellent first year together, and on being October’s Match of the Month!
Taylor regularly makes time to work with La’Najah on her reading skills. This is an area that La’Najah specifically asked Taylor to help her with. Not only did Taylor listen to La’Najah’s request, but she also goes out of her way to make sure the work they do together remains fun and interesting, with trips to the library, new books, and educational computer games. By allowing La’Najah to set her own goals, and keeping the learning process fun and interesting, Taylor is igniting her Little’s potential by encouraging her enjoyment of learning, and rewarding the fact that she advocated for herself by asking for help.
When La’Najah suffered a loss in her family, Taylor again was there to listen to her Little. Through that difficult time, the bonds of trust in this match deepened as Taylor opened up to La’Najah sharing her own experience with family loss. It was important to Taylor that La’Najah understood that the difficult and complicated feelings she was experiencing were normal and it was ok to feel them, it was ok to cry. When a child is empowered with the knowledge that the difficult feelings they are experiencing are normal, and nothing to be embarrassed about, it encourages growth and confidence, and better prepares them to handle life’s inevitable challenges.
La’Najah’s mom describes Taylor as, a cheerful and positive role model who always has good advice for her daughter. She says she has seen many positive changes in La’Najah since the match began, including that she is more adventurous. La’Najah’s newfound sense of adventure is likely due to the increase in confidence that comes with a Big like Taylor. A Big who listens to, shares power with, and sets an example for their Little encourages them to grow into an individual who is not only aware of their own potential, but also has the courage to stand and defend it. Congrats to both La’Najah and Taylor on the excellent team you have built, you definitely deserve to be Match of the Month.
Meet Claire and Nicole, from their first meeting this match bonded quickly over their many shared interests, such as animals and art. While they share broad interests, they tend to have expertise in different areas. For example, they both love art but Claire excels at watercolor while Nicole loves to crochet. This means that while exploring their shared interests they are also learning from each other. Matches that learn together, grow together and build deeper relationships. Congrats to you both one being September’s Match of the Month!
One of Claire and Nicole’s biggest shared interests is animals, so it’s not surprising that one of their first outings was to see the holiday lights at the Detroit Zoo. Both of them recall seeing the lights and learning about the animals as one of their most memorable outings to date. Their shared passion for animals made everything more exciting, while the delicious hot chocolate kept them warm.
Claire has a very impressive Lego collection and enjoys complex builds, like her Hogwarts Castle. Nicole took her to see the giant Lego towers at The Henry Ford Museum. They thoroughly enjoyed the impressive builds and learning how the builders overcame obstacles such as shape, rotation, and colors that do not easily translate to the standard Lego bricks. In sharing this experience Nicole is not only supporting Claire’s interest, but she is opening the door for her to dream bigger and look at future builds through a new lens.
While Claire and Nicole only had 3.5 months together before Covid-19 hit, they have not the challenges of this new reality pull them apart. In fact, they found a way to grow even closer over regular weekly zoom calls. They have made many big plans for after they feel safe getting together again, including a collaborative art project. We can not wait to see what you two come up with! Congratulations again on being The Match of the Month.
Meet Brooklyn and Margaret, these quiet hot chocolate connoisseurs have a lot in common and enjoy the simple things. According to Brooklyn’s mom, this match makes a fabulous team, they seem made for each other. Big congrats to this fabulous duo on being the Match of the Month!
Brooklyn and Margaret love to spend time together at the library. They work on Brooklyn’s homework, read new books and participate in library-sponsored activities together. When matches participate in educational activities they are able to learn and grow together. It can open doors and offers the opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective.
When we asked Brooklyn’s Mom which healing gestures she valued the most, she put listening on the top of her list. Margaret also values listening to her Little. She always gives Brooklyn a choice when they are planning their next activity. This small gesture shows Brooklyn that her opinion matters, and empowers her with the confidence to make other choices.
Brooklyn and Margaret have built a strong bond through their shared interests and similar personalities. They have learned to be totally comfortable just sitting in silence together. They have embraced the fact that neither of them is very talkative, and that they can enjoy each others company without the need to fill every minute with small talk. Margaret has observed that their quiet moments together make their conversations more meaningful. When a Big accepts a Little for exactly who they are, it builds up their sense of self-worth. Way to be yourselves ladies, and congrats again on being the Match of the Month!
Meet Autumn and Zakiya, these two will be celebrating their 1 year Match-a-versary in Aug, and they are our July Match of the Month! Zakiya loves that Autumn is outgoing and always willing to try new things. Autumn has expressed gratitude for Zakiya’s kindness and thoughtfulness, she has learned a lot from the example Zakiya sets. This match has overcome a few challenges in their first year together, but they came through it stronger than ever and are looking forward to their next adventure.
From their very first outing to Rolling Hills, where they tried everything the park had to offer; to Zombie Zap where Autumn discovered she loves VR gaming, these two have been on a mission to find new things to experience together. While in quarantine this match found new ways to stay connected and grow even closer through regular facetime calls and virtual gaming. Matches who experience new things together build strong bonds through shared memorable moments.
Zakiya always makes an effort to celebrate Autumn’s accomplishments. Autumn is an excellent student, she is always on top of her school work, and adjusted quickly to learning from home. Zakiya lets Autumn know how awesome her academic achievement is by regularly bragging about how smart her Little Sister is. She made an extra effort to celebrate Autumn when she earned the Student of the Month award. When Little’s feel celebrated in this way it emphasizes the value of their hard work and motivates them to keep it up!
Autumn and Zakiya were recently able to get together for the first time since quarantine began. They were able to celebrate being the Match of the Month and reflect on how far they have come in the last 11 months. Zakiya reflected that the biggest thing she has gained from the match is the understanding that you can learn from someone no matter what their age. She said they are always learning from each other. Autumn said the match has taught her the importance of mutual respect and quality time. We are so proud to see how this match has grown together, and can not wait to see what they do next. Congrats to Autumn and Zakiya on being the Match of the Month!
Meet Destiny and Stephanie, our Match of the Month. These two were matched based on their many common interests. They both love cats, being active, and outdoor activities. With so much in common, these two have been able to build a strong bond of trust and support over the last 7 months. They are both very much looking forward to when they can be together again.
Right off the bat Stephanie made a point of investing time into Destiny’s interests. One of the first outings the match had was Stephanie attending one of Destiny’s Cheerleading events. They also had a great time playing with the adorable kittens at the Cat Cafe. They have built on their bond through music, creating a car playlist to share their favorite songs with each other. Bonds built over shared interest can help Littles feel validated and build confidence.
Stephanie said it is important to her that Destiny feels that she is listened to. She makes addressing Destiny’s interests and concerns a priority in the relationship. She helped to facilitate a volunteer experience when Destiny expressed interest in working with the homeless. When Stepanie noticed Destiny need some help with math, she used real-world problem solving to help her boost her skills, working with her to figure out tax and totals on a shopping trip. When Littles feel empowered to make choices and build skills it opens up new doors for them to dream BIG.
During this time of social distancing Destiny and Stephanie can not be together, but that has not stopped them from staying connected. Stephanie took advantage of one of our Skills Building workshops, to learn new ways of staying connected to Destiny. Even though Stephanie works extremely long hours, she has made a point of checking in on Destiny and her family at least once a week. She even dropped fruit and ice cream on the porch to cheer Destiny up. Matches that make the effort to stay connected even in the most difficult times demonstrate the value and impact these relationships have on both the Big and the Little. Well done Destiny and Stephaine, and congrats on being our Match of the Month.
Meet Logan and Paul, they have been matched for 3 years. Logan’s mother, Jen, described the impact this match has had on their lives, “Paul is a constant in Logan's life. For some, that might not mean much but when a child (now teen) has lost a fair share of male role models this means everything.” We want to congratulate Logan and Paul on being May’s Match of the Month, thank you for being your amazing selves!
Both Logan and Paul describe themselves as quiet and shy in social situations. As a result, early in the match, it took them time to really build a bond. Through Paul’s great sense of humor and Mom’s encouragement, Logan and Paul eventually found a common ground that they could build on. It turned out, they both loved trying new foods. In the past three years, they have explored everything from Mediterranean to Vietnamese, and they aren’t done yet!
This match likes to talk about all the different foods they have tried on their palette expanding adventures. They have enjoyed trying rolled ice cream, poutine, lamb burgers, alligator, pizza and tacos. Paul described trying alligator with Logan for the first time as wonderful! He recalled that Logan’s willingness to try something so different was very rewarding to him as a mentor. When a Little experiences something new with their Big, it teaches them that they are capable of things they didn’t think were possible.
Logan and Paul’s new experiences do not end at food. They have also gone to the Detroit Auto Show, attended Lincoln Championship Basketball Games, and explored Logan’s career interests. Even now, when they can’t be together physically, Paul continues to set a good example for Logan by volunteering to deliver groceries to our BBBS families in need. Logan described what it has been like to have Paul as a Big Brother, “This match has helped me grow into a wonderful young man with the potential to do great things. I have been able to experience things, such as welding, cooking and expanding my taste buds and even meeting someone famous. I'm happy to have such a positive friend/mentor in my life helping guide and direct me.” Well said Logan, you two definitely deserve to be the Match of the Month!
Meet Violet and Nicole, this match hit the ground running 6 months ago. They easily connected over their many common interests and a taste for adventure. Nicole loves Violet’s spirit, even in the pouring rain she wanted to try everything Wiard’s Orchard had to offer. Whenever we see these two together they are all smiles and laughter, they clearly enjoy each other’s’ company.
Nicole loves to support Violet’s passion for musical theater and dance. She has attended several of her plays and a dance competition. Nicole says it is really important to her to celebrate Violet’s success. Celebrating a child’s success can inspire them to keep dreaming big, and working hard.
Violet really appreciates the way Nicole listens to her. She says she can tell what she has to say matters by the way Nicole makes eye contact and the expression on her face. Nicole always wants Violet to feel heard, and makes sure she has a say in the next activity. Listening to a child and sharing power in this way builds confidence and self-esteem.
Nicole has mentioned that beyond inspiring and encouraging Violet she also has a plan for challenging her growth. She said it is important to listen, reflect on mistakes, and then navigate what to do next. Even when facing challenges though these two always end on a positive note, followed by their signature giggles and smiles. Congrats to you both on being the Match of the Month!
Meet Jayla and Samantha, they were matched in part over their common interests in music and art, and they have been having fun together ever since. From big laughs at the Cat Cafe to new experiences at the Detroit Opera House, these two have a bucket list of future plans and they aim to get to the end of it.
As Jayla and Samantha work their way through their bucket list, they have enjoyed many musical performances and films together. They are looking forward to crossing, a day in Detroit, off the list very soon. The list lets Jayla feel involved in the match’s decision-making process and lets her know that her opinions and interests have value. Samantha always strives to make Jalya feel heard, and respected.
Early in the match, Jayla expressed a desire to feel like one of the “smart kids.” Samantha responded to this by pointing out that grades do not define how smart a person is, only how much time they put into the required work. Samantha frequently talks with Jayla about self-talk and self-esteem, she wants Jayla to know she can do anything she puts her mind to.
Samantha goes beyond inspiring dialogue and helps Jayla learn the importance of hard work and diligence. The match gets together at least once a week to work on homework, particularly studying math. Samantha has expressed gratitude for a smart, deep thinking Little like Jayla. Together this match is building Jayla’s confidence and life skills so that she knows exactly what she is capable of, and how to go out and get it. Congratulations to both Jayla and Samantha on being the Match of the Month , matches like you are an inspiration to us all.
Meet Dewon and Ben. Although they have only been matched for 7 months, in that time Dewon has really learned to trust Ben and come out of his shell. They have built a strong bond around their mutual goofiness and love for learning new things.
From impromptu basketball games to fishing, museums to welding lessons, this match has been busy! Dewon’s confidence has really grown along with all his new experiences. Ben has enjoyed teaching Dewon about cooking healthy, and they always look forward to their smoothie for dessert. No matter what new adventure they are off too, they keep it fun with Carpool Karaoke.
Ben always listens to Dewon when planning their next activity. He not only takes into account Dewon’s interests but always gives Dewon the power to choose from a couple options. Beyond including Dewon in the decision-making process, Ben makes an effort to learn from him. Dewon teaches Ben about cars, skating, superheroes, as well as a different life perspective.
By working to expand Dewon’s world view, and empowering him to make choices Ben is helping Dewon build the confidence and self-respect to make good choices even when he is not around. He is not only Defending Dewon’s potential but he is achieving the end goal of our BBBS program. Which is for our Little’s to own and defend their own potential.
During National Mentoring Month we want to congratulate Big Brother of the Year Tom and Big Sister of the year Joanie! These exemplary Bigs earned this honor by meeting 3 essential criteria. First, they have Ignited the Potential of their Littles by having a significant impact on their lives and goals. Second, they have Empowered the Potential of their Littles which is evident in the progress their Littles have made towards their goals. Finally, they have Defended the Potential of not only their Littles but every Little on our waitlist, by advocating for Big Brothers Big Sisters in their Communities. Lean more about these extraordinary matches by reading their stories below.
Meet Joanie and RayQueesha, you may remember them as the winners of our, "Where in the World is Bowley," contest this summer. They have been matched since 2015. In their 5 years together they have built a genuine sisterhood. RayQueesha knows that Joanie is always there to encourage her, both during their visits and on the phone between visits. RayQueesha says that the way Joanie is always there to listen to her makes her feel important. Joanie’s efforts to build such a deep bond helps to ignite RayQueesha’s potential, by consistently reminding her of her value.
Joanie loves to spend time with RayQueesha. The match likes to explore on their own, and consistently participate in program events. These outings provide Rayqueesha with a lot of opportunities for new experiences. They have gone to museums, bike riding on Belle Isles, and explored new restaurants. Beyond having fun together they also hold each other accountable for developing good habits, by studying together and running around Ford Lake. Between new experiences, and building healthy habits Joanie is helping to expand RayQueesha’s horizons and empowering her to dream big.
Joanie is an excellent advocate in the community for BBBS. From winning a BBBS photo contest last summer to engaging her employer to participate in our holiday Adopt-a-Family program, she is always helping to raise awareness for our program. She also includes Rayqueesha in her passion for volunteering. The match represented BBBS when they participated in Ypsi PROUD, a community beautification project. When a match works together to raise awareness for BBBS, they are defending the potential of every Little both in our program and on our wait list.
Once again we extend our heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to both Joanie and RayQueesha. It is matches like yours that makes everything we do worth it. It is matches like yours that change the world one Little at a time. Because of you, the future is bright and together, we will ignite it!
Tom and Mohamed, they have been matched since 2017. From the first moments of their match, Mo’s big dream was to play for the NBA. Tom has spent a great deal of time supporting and encouraging that dream. From regular one on one games to helping Mo go to basketball camp, Tom has worked hard to Ignite Mohamed’s Potential, so he felt his dream was attainable.
This match has spent countless hours on the court playing basketball. Tom talks about Mo’s game with great pride. He reminisced that in the beginning, he won most of their games, but now Mo wins most of the games. Off the court, Mohamed says he often calls Tom when he needs advice. “He helps me with basketball, and he guides me in life.” The trust Mo and Tom have built, empowers Mo to own his potential and pursue his dreams.
Tom loves to talk about the impact being a Big has had on his life. Tom feels so strongly about the positive impact that his match has had on both him and Mohamed, that he actively advocates for our program in his church. He even made a commercial, to helps raise awareness about the need for more Bigs in his community. By raising awareness, and leading by example Tom is not only defending Mo’s potential but the potential of the over 100 kids on our wait list.
Once again we extend our heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to both Tom and Mohamed. It is matches like yours that makes everything we do worth it. It is matches like yours that change the world one Little at a time. Because of you, the future is bright and together, we will ignite it!
Changing Lives-- One Story at a Time.