Meet Zaza and Crystal. This 9-year match started as part of a school-based program when Zaza was in 3rd grade. Now Zaza is in her senior year of high school, and this match has truly become family. Zaza is very connected to Crystal’s children and Crystal has gotten close to Zaza’s mom. For everything they have come through together, and for the relationship this match has built, they certainly have earned Match of the Month. Big congrats to you both!
When this match first began Crystal would meet Zaza at school for lunch once a week. 9 years later, the first time they sat down to have lunch together is still one of Zaza’s favorite memories. She says it felt good to have someone she could sit and talk to about anything, especially at a young age. While at school Crystal had the opportunity to observe Zaza in action with her peers and teachers. This allowed her to speak more directly to Zaza’s questions and concerns, and help her build stronger relationships with her community. When a youth has a trusted adult’s undivided attention, it helps them open up, and builds their confidence to ask difficult questions.
Eventually, Zaza and Crystal transitioned to a Community Based match. This opened up a lot of new opportunities for them to get out and try new things together. They have been roller skating, road roller coasters, seen plays and baseball games. Through all of it they still made time for their heart-to-heart chats. Their commitment to being open and honest with each other, helped Zaza’s confidence in herself and her abilities grow. In Zaza’s words, Crystal helped her feel “comfortable in her own skin.” It’s hard to think of something more empowering than learning to love yourself. Youth that have that confidence dream bigger because they believe in themselves.
Having a successful 9 year match is not all sunshine and rainbows. Zaza and Crystal have faced many obstacles along the way, including scheduling complications, Zaza’s mom getting sick, Crystal having her son, and the Covid-19 Pandemic. They came through all of it, together. When Zaza graduates this match will officially close, but the bonds they built riding the highs and weathering the lows are so much bigger than the age limits of our program. They know they will still have each other’s back. Sisters, always. Way to be an amazing team ladies, we are so proud of you!
Changing Lives-- One Story at a Time.