Our Match of the Month for February is Brittany and Stevie. Brittany is the Big and Stevie is the Little; she is 11 years old. These two have been matched in our program for over 2 years.
Brittany and Stevie really epitomize the "consistency" component of our program, which is vital to positive youth development. They set goals and strive to complete them through consistent work and effort! One simple example of this is learning to knit together. A more complex example is learning proper conflict resolution--an area that Brittany is helping Stevie improve in. This match also focuses on giving back to their community! They often spend their time volunteering together. Their first volunteer opportunity was with Operation Shoebox preparing care packages for our troops overseas. Now, these two frequently volunteer at a senior living facility.
Stevie's most memorable moment in this match is when they went ice skating for the first time. Although neither one of them will be winning any gold medals soon--they actually fell down a lot-- they both had an amazing time and still about it to this day.
Congratulations to our Big Brother of the year, Tom, and our Big Sister of the Year, Kate! The criteria we consider when choosing our Bigs of the Year is that they have an impact on their Little's social, emotional, and academic growth, but also that they connect with the organization in other ways by participating in our fundraising events or recruiting other Bigs to be in our program.
Kate and Cherie have been matched for almost two years and will be joining us at the BBBS office to commit to another more year in our program. Kate has positively impacted Cherie most visibly through her confidence. Before matched in the program, Cherie really struggled to verbalize her strengths and weaknesses. Today she proudly shares her skills with others, including her art talents.
Tom and Joseph have been matched for just under a year and are planning to join us at the BBBS to commit to another year in our program, just like Kate and Cherie. Joseph and Tom plan on spending their next year together talking about after-high school plans, and are considering taking some campus tours this coming year. Tom is very intentional with his match with Joseph. He is always asking to find ways to incorporate future-planning with Joseph. They have talked about the importance of organizational skills, and continues to find ways to engage Joseph and learn more about his interests.
Tony and Jalen have been matched for 8 months. Tony is the Big and Jalen is the Little; he is 13 years old.
Jalen is an only child, and he and his mother live in Belleville. Jalen is described as being shy and chill, and he spends his time reading about sports, listening to music and playing basketball at the YMCA. With just Jalen and his mother in the home, Jalen was in need of a positive male role model. Tony was just the guy for the job! He says experiences from middle school and high school helped him become the person he is today, and wanted to help kid who may have experienced the same things. The pair quickly bonded over going bowling, playing basketball and watching sports together.
More recently, Jalen and Tony had the opportunity to ride four-wheelers together! This was the first time Jalen rode a four-wheeler, and they had a ton of fun! Jalen was all smiles after this outing.
Jalen has experienced a lot of change within the last year- and even switched schools. Tony has helped Jalen keep his mind off of things by just chatting with him and hanging out together. Tony has learned that with consistency, patience, and trust even a teenager will open up to you.
Kate and Cherie are our Match of the Month for November. Kate is the Big Sister and Cherie is the Little Sister, she is 11 years old and the two have been matched for about a year and a half.
Kate and Cherie are a unique match, with very unique stories. They like to play with the kittens that Kate fosters and eat Saganaki together, but one of their favorite activities is going boating. Cherie says that going out on the boat with Kate has made her feel braver! This is important because one time when they were going on a nature walk together, right before they were going to go boating, Cherie was chased by a goose!
This match is very reflective. Cherie has shared that Kate has taught her a lot about integrity and has helped her be more strength-focused and confident. Before being matched, Cherie was very quiet and shy, but now she can proudly tell you about all the things she’s good at—like art and running races—and she feels comfortable talking to new people.
As a side note, we recently wrapped production on a short video that will premiere at Rise and Shine for Kids’ Sake. Kate and Cherie participated and we were really blown away by Cherie’s confidence speaking on camera!
Our Match of the Month for October is Haley and Serenity. Haley is the Big Sister, a student at the University of Michigan, and an advocate for BBBS! Serenity is the Little Sister; she is 15 years old. These two have only been matched since February of this year, but we can already see the impact of their relationship!
Because Serenity is an older Little in our program, she has been able to be more vocal while planning match activities. One favorite activity was just walking around in Ann Arbor. This was a first for Serenity! Another first was attending a University of Michigan soccer game through tickets donated to BBBS. As Haley puts it, this was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. These two have a lot of fun spending time with each other in the community, but they also incorporate great life lessons! They’ve started budgeting together for their activities, which is a great skill to learn when you’re young.
These two both have very busy schedules, including spending time together, but they still make time to advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters because they realize the impact their relationship makes on each other. Haley has already recruited two other Big Sisters! We’re constantly in need of adult volunteers to mentor the children on our waitlist!
Our Match of the Month for September is Lauren (Big) and Travon (Little). Travon is 11 years old and this match will be celebrating their two-month anniversary in the program this month!
These two are always moving around by going to SkyZone, Airtime, or swimming in the summer, but they also love doing simple activities like grabbing breakfast together. They actually spoke at our Fall Fundraiser last year, which is an event we held again this September.
It’s important to remember that BBBS doesn’t just encourage matches to have fun in the community! We also have targeted outcome area and goals for each individual match. One outcome of our program that we use to measure youth development is academic success. In our program, 86% of youth increase their educational expectations. This is as simple as feeling confident about graduating high school or planning to go to college.
Travon and Lauren are making great strides when it comes to academic success. Together they worked on Travon’s application for Wolverine Pathways, a program through the University of Michigan, which challenges and supports young students academically. It could even result in a scholarship to the University! We just found out that Travon was accepted into the program. We’re thrilled that he’s so excited about doing well in school! For more information about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, click here.
Our August Match of the Month is Big, Brittany and Little, Zaylah. They are a community-based match that was paired back in 2012!
Zaylah, now 13, and Brittany spend a great deal of time together. Their favorite activities include enjoying frozen yogurt, playing at the park, visiting their favorite eateries and having “girl time”!
This match regularly spends time together and Zaylah appreciates that Brittany is always there for her. She loves that she can let go and be herself when she’s with Brittany.
This match's relationship has grown tremendously over the past four years. . .Even Zaylah’s mom says that her daughter is more open and confident since being matched with Brittany.
Brittany and Zaylah are a great example of how spending time together can make a major impact on a child’s life.
Learn more about how you can become a Big.
Our July Match of the Month features 9-year-old, Little, Ja’Nard and Big, Jan. Yes--they’re an cross-gender match!
This two year match was paired due to their extremely active lifestyles and love for sports. And when we say active, we mean ACTIVE -- they’ve been bike riding, started a garden and attended many sporting events. They’ve even visited the University of Michigan’s Natural Museum! (It has dinosaurs!)
Jan, even with her hectic schedule as a women’s golf coach at the University of Michigan, wanted to give back to her community, so she decided to become a Big. And even though Jan’s schedule requires that she travels a great deal, she still spends quality time with Ja’Nard.
You’re never too busy to make difference in a child’s life. Learn more about being a mentor: http://bit.ly/1sXQu3w.
Chris, a “big” in our program, who comes to us through our corporate partner, PSMI, never thought he would be a good “big brother”. He didn’t know “what to do” with a “little” but after being matched with “little” Aiden in November 2015, that all changed.
Chris and Aiden meet once a week at Aiden’s school, since they are one of our school based matches. Together they enjoy playing hockey, chess and many other activities. “Little” Aiden, who waited over one year to be matched, really enjoys spending time with Chris. “We hang out, we play and it’s really fun,” said Aiden. “We play board games. It’s basically like he’s my family.”
This is an active match—Chris even participates in field trips at Aiden’s school when he has the chance. Aiden’s confidence has increased since being matched with his “big” and aside from having a new addition to his family; he is learning the importance of responsibility and patience from his “big”.
This match enjoys spending time being active whether it’s playing outdoors or a game of chess.
If you’re considering becoming a “big”, Chris has some advice for you. “Be patient,” says Chris. “Put yourself in their tiny shoes so that you can relate to them.”
There are “littles” waiting to be matched with a “big” like you. Learn more about volunteering as a “big” here.
Our Match of the Month story highlights two of our “Bigs”—Justin and Emily, who are married and two of our “Littles”—Jovon and Erin, who are brother and sister.
These pairs were matched in September of 2015, and since then have learned a great deal about one another. Justin, “Big”, recently learned that Jovon, “Little”, has a budding love for anime and other elements of Japanese culture—which inspired a trip to a comic-con event! Jovon and Justin have also attended many University of Michigan sporting events, taking trips to the grocery together and visited Justin’s law firm.
Emily, “Big”, and Erin, “Little”, discovered that they both share a love for the arts and recently attended a stage play, The Grinch, in downtown Detroit—which was a first for Erin! This pair enjoys baking, visiting various art museums together. While these pairs of “Bigs” and “Littles” are learning more about each other’s personal interests, they are also learning the importance of accepting one another’s differences and the importance of flexibility. Justin and Jovon didn’t share many similar interests, but as their relationship develops, they are able to teach and show each other about new and different ideas that they normally wouldn’t experience on their own.
Early on, Emily and Erin had a difficult time finding a time to meet that worked for them both—over time, this pair was able to make personal sacrifices in order for their relationship to grow. These lessons were not only good learning experience that these Littles can use for the rest of their lives, but a learning opportunity for the Bigs as well!
If you have unique interests or are unsure if you can relate to those with interest unlike yours, let this story be a motivation for you! As these pairs approach their one-year anniversaries, they are learning, growing and making an impact in each other’s lives daily…together—and you can too. Click here for more information about how you can make an impact.