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!
Meet Ave’Reonna and Hannah Eve, a match that was initially paired due to their many shared interests such as painting, drawing, hiking, and trying new things. These two have built a deep and honest connection through sharing joy in the simple things, like long walks, and decorating the neighborhood sidewalks with sidewalk chalk.
Ave’Reonna has expressed gratitude to Hannah Eve and Big Brothers Big Sisters for the new experiences she has enjoyed because of her match. Her favorite was going to the museum because, in her words, it was something she, “had never seen before.” Sharing new experiences is one way our matches build strong and trusting connections.
Hannah Eve has mentioned how grateful she is for the authenticity and honesty of the relationship the two have built. It is important to her that they both feel safe enough to share openly, even if they disagree. One of Hannah Eve’s favorite memories is when she asked Ave’Reonna what she thought of her new tiles. She replied, “They’re ugly.” They both burst out laughing.
From difficult homework to navigating through life’s occasional misadventures, Ave’Reonna knows that Hannah Eve always has her back. Having a Big Sister in her corner to advocate for her, helps Ave’Reonna have the confidence to own her own potential and dream BIG! Ave’Reonna’s mom has mentioned how happy she is that her daughter has a role model like Hannah Eve, to help guide her through life as a teenager.
Meet Ian and Isaiah. A Match whose love for trying new things has already taken them on many exciting adventures. They have both thanked BBBSWC for bringing them together, and can not wait to see what new doors the program will open for them next.
In their quest for adventure they have visited the Michigan Folk School, the DSO, and Sky Zone to name a few. Many of these were exciting firsts for Ian and helped to open him up to even more new ideas and experiences. New experiences can not only change how we see the world, but also open us up to new ideas and strategies for navigating it. For their next adventure, they have their sights set on the Yankee Air Museum, we can’t wait to see what BIG ideas Ian gets from that trip.
Ian’s mom has joked that Ian and Isaiah are just a big and little version of the same person. Their similarities make it easy for them to relate to each other. Ian greatly benefits from Isaiah’s experience and understanding when life throws him a curveball. In fact, they both listed, “just chatting” as one of their favorite things to do together. A safe space and trusted sounding board is essential to empowering a Little who’s trying to understand a big world.
Ian and Isaiah have built a deep trust and support structure. They have both expressed how sharing new experiences and heart to heart chats has made them individually stronger. Ian uses the confidence he has gained, and lessons Isiah has taught him even when he isn’t around. With Isaiah by his side, Ian is learning to defend his own potential.
Meet Prieana and Kailey. This is not the first match for either of them, so they were both ready to hit the ground running. While they have not been matched for long these two peas in a pod have already logged countless moments of adventure and fun.
Before being matched with Kailey, Prieana’s mother described her as bored. She wanted adventure and new experiences but did not have easy access to them. Kailey was self described as silly and open to anything. While the two did not have a long list of specific interests in common, they were united by their sense of adventure and desire to try new things. This built excitement for them to explore each others interest and build trust through those experiences.
Prieana and Kailey have had so much fun being together, and expanding each others horizons. From trying new foods, to Tiger’s games they have built a safe space where they can freely exchange their ideas on what to do next. They support each other and encourage each other to go beyond their comfort zone.
Both Prieana and Kailey have expressed how genuine their sisterly bond has become. Beyond seeking adventure they also love the simple moments they spend together like singing in the car, and chatting about life. Nothing sums up the essential nature of their support structure like Prieana’s own words. “Kailey is the best Big Sister… she walked into my life unexpectedly, but has been great to have around.”
RayQueesha’s mom enrolled her and her two sisters shortly after moving to Ann Arbor from Flint. The family was going through a lot of changes on top of moving – RayQueesha’s father had passed away and her oldest sister moved out of the house, both of whom she was very close with. Her mom really wanted her to have someone to connect with, look up to and gain insight from. And that turned out to be Joanie. Joanie was motivated to become a Big Sister to help support and empower a young girl in our community, and that’s what she’s done for the 3 ½ years!!
This match is one that really exemplifies Igniting Potential for a young person! Joanie and RayQueesha go everywhere and do everything. When we think of what Igniting Potential means, it’s the new opportunities and experiences that a volunteer Big can expose their Little to. So many, far too many kids, do not experience life outside of a several block radius – to school, to church, to the neighborhood store, if there is one. They have little first-hand experience with what all the world has to offer them. And that is what Joanie does with RayQueesha!
They participated this summer in our Where in the World is Bowley contest – and were our winners! They took Bowley everywhere! To the Detroit River walk, Belle Isle, riding bikes around town, to get lunch and ice cream….and most importantly to RayQueesha’s 8th grade graduation!!
Congratulations RayQueesha and Joanie!
Changing Lives-- One Story at a Time.