Ethan & Thomas
Meet Ethan and Thomas, they have been matched for 6 months and are off to a great start. They have already learned so much from one another, from how to be brave when trying new things, to how small actions of gratitude (like helping with the dishes) can make a big difference. These two have BIG plans to keep learning and growing together, and that’s what makes them our Match of the Month! Congratulations to you both, we can’t wait to see what you do next.
Ethan and Thomas have a shared favorite memory of their time together, baking cookies! It was the first time Ethan had ever baked cookies. Thomas noted that Ethan was very open to learning about the baking process, and that he did not get frustrated when he needed to be corrected. Ethan loved the learning process too, but not as much as he enjoyed eating the results. He enthusiastically declared they were, “The BEST cookies he had ever had in his entire life!” Exploring new things together both builds trust in a relationship, and builds confidence in a young person to continue exploring other new ideas, and interests.
We firmly believe that Bigs and Littles have a lot to teach each other. Ethan and Thomas’ match is an excellent example of this. Ethan’s family took time to teach Thomas about the Chinese Moon Festival. And when Ethan and Thomas went for a swing at the park it was Ethan who walked Thomas through the process of jumping off a swing, and built up his confidence so he was brave enough to take the leap. Thomas empowered Ethan to teach him something new, when you show that kind of faith in a young person it teaches them to believe in themselves.
When Ethan and Thomas got together to build model planes, it turned into a science experiment. They reconfigured the planes several times to see what would happen if you turned the wings upside down, or backward. And carefully observed how each variation affected the plan’s flight. This simple moment of fun and exploration teaches Ethan that not only is it ok to ask questions and experiment, but also how to learn from the results of his actions. This translates into important life skills that are sure to help Ethan in the future. Congrats again to you both on being our Feb Match of the Month, we hope you keep playing and learning together!
BIGS OF THE YEAR 2022!!
You met Hannah and MaKayla as our Match of the Month in October. They have been matched for just over a year, but what an impact a year makes. From starting their relationship during the height of the pandemic to MaKayla working through some really tough challenges these two faced a lot of hurdles in their first year. Rather than pulling them apart, each fresh challenge made them stronger. Now, here they stand one year later, and in Hannah’s own words, “We’re a fantastic team and I wouldn’t change a thing.” This team definitely demonstrates what it means to be “Bigger Together,” and that’s why we are very pleased to announce that Hannah is one of our Bigs of the Year!
When you start a relationship virtually it can be challenging to build a strong connection. Despite these challenges, Mom hoped the relationship would thrive and help boost MaKayla’s self-confidence. Hannah dove right in, and soon found MaKayla and her were similar in many ways. Mom credits the great success of this match to that similarity, and Hannah’s willingness to have some sensitive conversations with MaKayla. Having someone in her corner that both understood her, and could be trusted to show up no matter what, has built MaKayla’s confidence. She knows now no matter how low she feels, Hannah will be there to lift her up, because she matters. When a child learns to work through the hard times in a healthy and supported way, it prepares them to be strong and resilient adults. One thing is clear, Hannah and MaKayla have already learned lifelong lessons together, lessons that will have a lasting impact.
Any Big of the Year must advocate for our program as a whole as well as show dedication to their Little. Hannah has supported our program both by participating along with MaKayla in our 5k last fall, and in our, Give BIG fundraiser in November. In fact, Hannah raised more money than any other participating Big and beat her overall fundraising goal. Hannah is dedicated, consistent, and reliable. She shows up for Makayla and for BBBS - every time - and that is what makes her one of our Bigs of the Year! Congrats Hannah, we are so proud to have you as part of our village!
Meet Sunny and Aidan, these two have been matched for nearly 5 years. Aidan’s mom said, Aidan has found a friend, resource, and someone he can share his life experiences with. She said that Sunny has been such a great support, especially during Aidan’s teenage years even for her. Aidan’s father passed away in 2012 from leukemia which was very hard on the family so having a positive man in his life has been so beneficial. His mom went on to say that he has been able to instill positivity in Aidan’s life and they are so blessed to have him in their lives. Sunny has been a reliable male role model, there to guide Aidan as he grew into a man. While Aidan will soon graduate from high school and age out of our program, the impact Sunny has had on him will certainly be lifelong. And that is what makes Sunny one of our Bigs of the Year!
Aidan is in his senior year of high school, and as a team, this match has been really focused on what’s next for Aidan when it comes to higher education and his future. Sunny has been very instrumental in helping Aidan decide what he is interested in career wise and even gave him his first job this past summer. Aidan worked for Sunny’s business, ‘Back Office Studio’ (BOS) located in Ypsilanti. Aidan’s role was to help with community gatherings and local businesses that partnered with BOS. Sunny and his partner have also had talks with Aidan about college readiness; college applications, deciding on schools, etc. We believe that all young people are full of limitless potential and with Sunny’s support and guidance, Aidan has built the confidence and the skill sets he needs to achieve that potential after he graduates.
Beyond being a staunch advocate for Aidan, Sunny also makes time to advocate and support our program as a whole. He has opened up BOS for BBBS events, and shared information about our mission and need for Bigs with his staff and EMU community. He has also accepted a board position in the new year. Sunny’s dedication to both Aidan and our program as a whole makes him the ideal pick for Big of the Year. Congratulations Sunny, thank you for being a part of our village!
Jazzy & Beth
Meet Jazlynn and Beth, these two fun loving ladies were matched in April of this year, and they have filled the last 6 months with excitement and laughter. Jazlynn and Beth bonded very quickly, if they had a catch phrase it would be, “same.” Beth says they say that to each other all the time, because they think alike on so many things. We think all the silliness and laughs these two have packed into a short amount of time makes them the perfect Match of The Month. Congrats to you both, and keep those giggles rollin’.
Jazlynn and Beth like to keep things fun. Sometimes that means epic haunted houses or fast go karts, but other times it’s simple things like doing the puzzles on the kids menus or acting silly at Meijers. Having that consistent partner to laugh and seek adventure with has made a huge impact on both Jazlynn and Beth. Jazlynn’s mom, Angel, told Beth that the time her and Jazlynn spend together has been a blessing. And Beth reapplied, “same.” To her Jazlynn is, “pure joy,” she gets her out of the house and keeps her laughing.
Beth likes to be a cheerleader for Jazlynn whenever she gets the chance. She likes to attend Jazlynn’s sporting events, she sits and bonds with her family as they to root Jazlynn on together. Beth says Jazlynn is a pretty confident young lady, but it is still important to her to give Jazlynn lots of positive affirmations to build her up even more. Beth recognizes Jazlynn’s amazing potential and can’t wait to see how far she goes in life.
These two may have packed a lot of joy into their first 6 months as a match, but they are just getting started and have big plans for the future. Plans like meeting Jazlynn’s new baby brother when he is born in March. They made up their own nick-name for him till he arrives, JaMerryChristmas. They also have distant future dreams of an epic road trip down south in Beth’s travel trailer. One thing is for sure, this match is bursting with potential, and we can not wait to see where they go together. Congrats again ladies, thanks for sharing your joy with us this month.
Mike & Tyler
Mike and Tyler hit the ground running in January, and have managed to pack the last 11 months with some BIG adventure. From racing go-karts, to troubleshooting science experiments these two have one motto, “Go BIG or go home!” That go big attitude and consistent hunt for the next challenge, is what makes this dynamic duo our November Match of The Month! Congrats to you both, we can’t wait to see what you do next.
These two love trying new things and exploring the world around them. They recently conducted a science experiment, creating non-newtonian fluid and then playing speakers underneath it to make it move in patterns. While doing the project, Mike figured out the best way to get the goop safely onto the speakers so they could watch the way it interacted with sound. Tyler shared that they wouldn’t have been able to do the experiment without Mike figuring that out. Experiments and problem solving like this Ignite Potential, by encouraging curiosity and building confidence.
Mike has a competitive spirit and Tyler tries to foster that as much as possible. One day while they were playing ping pong together, they decided that a new game was in order, so they made one themselves. They came up with new ways to use the paddles, set up cups as goals, and worked together to create a new way to compete. Using creative thinking to challenge growth Empowers Potential by not only teaching a child to think outside the box, but giving them the confidence to totally reinvent institutional norms.
This match agrees that their motto, “Go BIG or go home,” does more than sum up who they are as a match, but also applies to the way they both want to live life. One of the goals of our program is to help youth develop the life skills and confidence they need to understand their Limitless Potential, and the strength and resiliency they need to stand and Defend it. With a Big like Tyler in his corner, to challenge and encourage him, Mike is well on his way to doing just that. Congrats again on being the Match of The Month, gentleman. Whatever your next adventure might be, we know you will go BIG!
MaKayla & Hannah
Meet MaKayla and Hannah, this match has two reasons to celebrate this month, it’s their one-year Matchaversary, and they are our Match of the Month! From starting their relationship during the height of the pandemic to MaKayla working through some really tough challenges these two faced a lot of hurdles in their first year. Rather than pulling them apart, each fresh challenge made them stronger. Now, here they stand one year later, and in Hannah’s own words, “We’re a fantastic team and I wouldn’t change a thing.” This team definitely demonstrates what it means to be “Bigger Together,” and we couldn’t be more proud!
When you start a relationship virtually it can be challenging to build a strong connection. Despite these challenges, Mom hoped the relationship would thrive and help boost MaKayla’s self-confidence. Hannah dove right in, and soon found MaKayla and her were similar in many ways. Mom credits the great success of this match to that similarity, and Hannah’s willingness to have some sensitive conversations with MaKayla. Having someone in her corner that both understood her, and could be trusted to show up no matter what, has built MaKayla’s confidence. She knows now no matter how low she feels, Hannah will be there to lift her up, because she matters.
Both MaKayla and Hannah love to do the simple things together. Whether that’s floating down a river with all the drinks and snacks they could want, or finding the best tire swing and seeing who can push the fastest, these two just love being outside together. In one of their recent adventures, they completed the BBBS 5k. Hannah said, “MaKayla never fails to remind me to slow down and enjoy the present moment that we’re in. I adore her kind, vivacious personality, a kid who’s always ready to find animals and explore the world around us.” Having a partner to slow down and explore with can open whole new worlds to both Bigs and Littles.
Things have not always been easy breezy, but Hannah has always been there. No matter what's going on in MaKayla's world she consistently shows up to help however she can, even bringing the whole family dinner. Most importantly, she is there for MaKayla when she needed someone to listen. When a child learns to work through the hard times in a healthy and supported way, it prepares them to be strong and resilient adults. One thing is clear, MaKayla and Hannah have already learned lifelong lessons together, lessons that will have a lasting impact. Something tells us this Match is just getting started, way to be a fantastic team ladies, and congrats again on being our Match of the Month!
Zaza & Crystal
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!
Phoenix & Jacob
Meet Phoenix and Jacob! This match was first formed in the fall of the Pandemic and began their relationship virtually. Since then their long-term goal has become to just hang out and try new things together. They both appreciate the simple things like, just getting out of the house and going for a drive. Phoenix and Jacob rate their match a 10 out of 10, and so do we, BIG congrats to you two on being the Match of the Month.
Jacob is very fond of how often Phoenix will call or text him just to get out of the house. He is always happy to show up, and be there for his Little. Sometimes they hit up one of their favorite spots, others they try something new. They have made milkshakes, baked cookies, and watched movies. The important thing is, when Phoenix calls, Jacob shows up. That simple act builds the kind of trust that gives a kid the confidence to open up and grow.
From the very beginning of this match had to work on building trust. Phoenix had a previous match that ended abruptly and was very concerned Jacob would do the same. When Jacob went on vacation to Texas, Phoenix called him very worried because he hadn’t heard from him in a week. Jacob took a break from his vacation to call Phoenix back, remind him where he was, apologize for scaring him, and assure him he wasn’t going anywhere. When an adult empathizes with a child’s fear, and takes the time to make them feel safe, it shows the child that they are cared for and important.
Phoenix is excited to make the transition back into the classroom this fall, and see his friends. He has expressed that he knows if he runs into any trouble, or needs help adjusting Jacob will be there. He knows because Jacob is always there, and because Jacob told him he was happy to help with school. When a child knows there is someone reliable in their corner, it gives them the courage to face things that might otherwise seem intimidating or scary, because they know they are not doing it alone. Way to be an amazing team Phoenix and Jacob, you definitely deserve to be our Match of the Month!
Kendrick & Drew
We want to tell you Kendrick and Drew's story. This camera shy match, has been together since 2017. Kendrick is 18, and about to graduate, which means their match is about to close, but that's not bringing these two down. As Kendrick put it, “We are brothers till the end.” Drew mentioned that Kendrick is just part of his life now, and he is excited to see what comes next. We love it when matches build bonds that stretch beyond their time in our program, congrats to you both on being our Match of the Month!
Kendrick describes Drew as someone who listens and is trustworthy. Drew shared that it was important to him that Kendrick saw him as someone he could always talk to. Whether Drew is attending Kendrick’s Games, or just picking up the phone when he calls, Kendrick knows Drew has always got his back and is willing to listen. Having a relationship like that builds confidence and resilience in youth, because they know no matter what life throws at them there will be someone standing by their side.
Kendrick plays football and basketball, and Drew attends his games when he can. Drew makes a point of trying to connect with Kendrick after the game to check in. Even if the game didn’t go his way, Kendrick knows Drew will be there to talk it out. Having someone there to listen when life challenges them, gives youth a safe space to grow and learn from their mistakes.
Drew is always there for Kendrick, in good times and bad. When Kendrick’s mother passed away, he called Drew. Drew went to the hospital to support Kendrick. Even on one of his darkest days, Drew still showed up. Not because he had to, but because he wanted to be there for Kendrick. Kendrick can graduate and move into adulthood with his chin up, and ready to take on the world, because he knows no matter what comes next he is never standing alone. Congratulations again, and thank you for being part of our BBBS story, best of luck to you both!
Aniya & Lisa
Meet Aniya and Lisa, these two have been matched since 2012 and are still going strong! Lisa says she knew her and Aniya were the perfect match right away, because their personalities clicked so well. Aniya says that while they have done a lot of amazing things together, it’s the little things she holds on to, like making pizza together. We are so proud of you both, you totally deserve to be our Match of The Month!
These two have had a lot of memorable adventures over the years, from standing on the field with the Lions, to seeing the Harlem Globe Trotters. But both Aniya and Lisa recall Cirque du Soleil as one of their most memorable outings. Aniya recalls seeing the show as a young child as “magical.” When youth are given the opportunity for new experiences it Ignites their Potential, opening their minds up to new possibilities, and fueling bigger dreams.
Lisa described her relationship with Aniya as something that, “has impacted her beyond words.” She says she loves that they push each other outside of their comfort zones. As they experience new things together both Big and Little Sister have seen their confidence grow. Aniya says Lisa has taught her to venture out and meet new people, make the best of situations, and most importantly make memories with the people you love. In the 9 years they have been together these two have Empowered each other to learn and grow as a team.
Aniya reflected on how things have changed during the pandemic, and admitted to sometimes feeling a bit hopeless in the face of its challenges. She said, “I have to look back and think about all the wonderful memories I made with people who truly love me and have my best interest at heart. And when I reminisce of all the spectacular adventures me and Lisa have been on and all the funny moments. It helps me get through the days in hopes that things will be normal again and we'll be able to continue our adventures.” Building the life skills it takes to show resilience when times are tough is a huge part of teaching children to become Defenders of their own Potential. Job well done Aniya and Lisa, congratulations again on being the Match of The Month!
Daliylah & Emmy
Meet Daliylah and Emmy. This match was introduced last Fall and have begun to build their mentoring relationship in so many ways – getting together in-person when it was safe to go to bookstores and the park….and over the Winter staying connected virtually through Facetime, doing arts and crafts projects together and talking about their day, and school, and what they wanted to do when it gets warmer. They’re excited for Spring, as it means that they can resume meetings and going to park – always something good for the soul, sunshine and fresh air.
Daliylah’s mom got her and her older sister involved in the program because she had a Big Sister when she was younger and really enjoyed the program. She wanted Daliylah to have diverse opportunities, experiences and people in her life. On one of their first outings, they went to Olive Garden where Daliylah really wanted to try calamari, so the pair decided to take the plunge together. Giving young people the opportunity to try new things, and have those experiences with them, can be so powerful. Showing them that you can try, and learn new things, as an adult can be so powerful.
Emmy has also supported Daliylah with her reading skills. Not only have they visited local bookstores, but Daliylah has been able to pick out books she likes, to help instill that love of reading. When we give kids voice and choice, it goes much further in helping them develop skills and improve.
They’ve been able to make fun and lasting memories together, as well. For Daliylah, that was seeing a movie together that she’d really wanted to see – and afterwards she could not stop talking about how much fun she had with Emmy on that outing. And for Emmy, it was a visit they’d made to her house when Daliylah met her cat and roommate for the first time. She had such a good time and gave hugs all around before leaving. Creating additional social circles and building the social capital of young people gives them a stronger web of support to learn and grow as they develop.
This match is just one of many who have figured out how to build their relationship in-person and virtually over the last year. No small feat. Congratulations on being our Match of the Month.