Anaya and Anna
Big Sister Anna and Little Sister Anaya have been matched since last summer, and the match has developed wonderfully since then. Anaya is a kind, intelligent 15-year-old with a natural curiosity and great sense of adventure. She says she wants to be a cosmetologist, which seems like a great fit given her compassionate, bubbly personality! She and her siblings also share their home with two of her cousins, making it a tight fit and leaving few opportunities for one-on-one time for the kids. Therefore, her mom signed her up with our program with the hope that time outside the house with a mentor would help Anaya develop her own passions and goals.
Meanwhile, Anna had recently moved to Ann Arbor and wanted to connect to a young person while learning about the community. While she is working full time, she felt that it was important to her to find time to give back. Given Anna and Anaya’s shared interests, including their shared love of cats, they seemed like the perfect fit.
Anna and Anaya have had a ton of fun together, going out to eat, going to the mall, and getting their nails done, as well as just hanging out at Anna’s house and talking. When they went roller skating together, Anna said she was thrilled to see Anaya come out of her shell. “It was nice to see her open up and just have fun as a kid!” she said.
From the beginning, Anna was very intentional in trying to give Anaya the best opportunities. Anaya struggles sometimes with peer relationships. She says she has a lot of friends but lacks someone who feels truly close to her. Also, while she does an amazing job maintaining her good grades, she sometimes finds the social dynamics of school overwhelming. However, Anna is always there for Anaya to talk about what she is experiencing and keep her on the right track towards her goals. The pair gets together frequently and stays connected in between outings via texting.
Already, Anna has made a positive impact in Anaya’s life. Anaya really seems to have opened up to Anna, sharing her thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Anna mentioned during one of her regular check-ins with our staff that she does not always feel like she has all the answers for Anaya. She said she was concerned that she could be doing better to support her. This concern is very common amongst our volunteers, and as with others who have expressed similar things, we know that it comes from a place of love. We reminded Anna that, as a Big in our program, it is ok to not always know what to say. Being a mentor isn’t about having all the answers; it’s about being there, listening, and sharing in their journey to help them find the answers. Anna, like all mentors, may not be perfect, but she shows up for Anaya and takes an active interest in her success. It’s like people say, “Kids don’t care what you think until they think that you care,” and watching Anna and Anaya, it is clear that they really care about each other.