We told you Ben and Dewon’s story when they were our Match of the Month back in February of last year. When we last checked in with them it was right before everything shut down in March. Since then they have gone through the continuing health crisis as a team. Ben has gone out of his way to stay connected to Dewon, even inviting Dewon and his mom into his backyard for a safe outdoor BBQ. His commitment to his Little and his consistent support of the BBBS program, are what set Ben apart as our Big Brother of the Year. Big congratulations to you Ben, you have earned this!
Ben and Dewon celebrated two years of being matched in June, in that time they have made a point of exploring many new things. Reflecting on their journey together, Ben shared that he was most excited to watch Dewon continue to grow and become more confident in himself. He also shared that they overcame some fears together and it’s exciting to watch. A consistent and reliable mentor like Ben, who is not afraid to challenge growth, can be the key that helps unlock a Littles confidence, helping them find the courage to do things they didn’t think they could.
Ben and Dewon have worked together on the importance of healthy habits and hard work. From cooking healthy meals and enjoying smoothies, to working out as a team, Ben has both set an example for Dewon and encouraged him to stay motivated. Ben also makes sure that progress made, and goals achieved are always celebrated. When a Little’s efforts are both supported and rewarded, it encourages further progress and bigger goals.
When the pandemic hit and Washtenaw County shut down, Ben rolled up his sleeves and got involved. He volunteered to help us deliver food to our families who did not have transportation, or had at risk family members in the home. When asked about his experience delivering groceries he talked about how rewarding it was to give back to the community during such a difficult time. It’s Ben’s desire to give BIG that made him our Big Brother of the Year. Congrats again to both Ben and Dewon, matches like yours are an inspiration to us all!
You met Big Sister Zakiya and her Little Sister Autumn when they were the Match of the Month in July last year. Since then you have seen them together in our Empower Resilience campaign. This match will not be separated by the current health crisis or the cold weather. In addition to staying connected to her Little, Zakiya has helped Autumn grow, and advocated for our program in the community. She is everything we look for in a Big and we wholeheartedly congratulate her on being the Big Sister of the Year!
Autumn said that her favorite thing about having Zakiya as a Big is that she is kind. She also said she loves going on outings with Zakiya and, “just getting to know her.” Having a mentor that you can trust to show up, and have your back makes a huge impact on Littles like Autumn. It builds their confidence, both in themselves and their ability to do new things. Knowing that, that bond is reliable even in the most uncertain times, can be a guide when life gets hard.
Zakiya goes out of her way to celebrate Autumn’s accomplishments. Autumn is an excellent student, she is always on top of her school work, and adjusted quickly to learning from home. Zakiya lets Autumn know how awesome her academic achievement is by regularly bragging about how smart her Little Sister is. She made an extra effort to celebrate Autumn when she earned the Student of the Month award. When Little’s feel celebrated in this way it emphasizes the value of their hard work and motivates them to keep it up.
Zakiya not only goes out of her to be an amazing Big to Autumn, but she also goes above and beyond by giving additional time and financial support to our program. She helped with our Adopt-A-Family program this year. On #GiveBigDay, when we asked our volunteers to help us fundraise, Zakiya was there for that too. She is willing to go the extra mile, even when that mile is a difficult climb, and that is what set her apart as our Big Sister of the Year. Congrats to both Zakiya and Autumn, you are an amazing match and we can’t wait to see what you do in 2021.
Meet Mike and Dior. From their very first outing to Washtenaw Community College to view art exhibits these two have been expanding each other’s horizons. Between sporting events and restaurants, to finding ways to stay connected through the current health crisis these two have inspired each other to dream big and give more. Congrats to you both on being our December, Match of the Month!
One of Dior and Mike’s favorite outings was going to see U of M play. It was Dior’s first trip to The Big House, and he was able to meet Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Super Star Charles Woodson. Dior also met other influential men that talked with him about his interests and things that he would like to pursue as a profession. The memorable experience made a big impact on Dior.
Dior and Mike often use their travel time to check-in and chat about how Dior is doing in school and at home. When Dior feels that he is struggling, Mike is always there to listen and offer advice and resources to help Dior feel confident in himself and his abilities. By both demonstrating faith in his Little, and challenging his growth, Mike is empowering Dior to make his own healthy choices.
Mike has said that Dior’s attitude, ability, and grace give him energy and inspire him to give back more to his community. He also said that he has seen others be inspired by Dior’s integrity and devotion to his family and friends. When an adult looks at a youth with such esteem and regard, it builds their sense of self-worth. This gives them the confidence to stand and defend their own inherent potential.
Meet Cedric and Pete they were initially matched due to many shared interests including being active, reading, and trying new things. In the year and a half since then, they have had a lot of fun exploring their shared interest and discovering new ones. Pete introduced Cedric to Chinese food, and now it’s a go-to way to celebrate their individual accomplishments. It’s time to get some take out gentleman because you are our Match of the Month, congratulations!
From the beginning of their match Pete has consistently worked with Cedric on reading and critical thinking. In fact, for their first several outings Pete took Cedric to the library. Pete says their third outing was very memorable for him. Up until that point Cedric had not been thrilled with frequenting the Library. However, on their third meeting, Cedric asked Pete to take him to the Library. Pete was thrilled to see Cedric’s interest and curiosity grow.
Throughout the height of the current pandemic, Pete has made time to deliver groceries to families in need of assistance. This includes regular food and book deliveries to Cedric’s family. He also included Cedric on his delivery route. Cedric said participating in the grocery deliveries made him feel good, and like he could make a difference. When youth understand the positive impact their actions can have on their community, it empowers them to take action and believe in themselves.
Cedric’s mother mentioned that Pete has been very helpful in teaching Cedric to navigate emotional and stressful situations. These times are stressful for all of us, including the youth in our community. Pete makes a point of talking to Cedric when his emotions are running high. Teaching him to calm himself, and once he has calmed down, to think critically about problem-solving and coping with any given situation. These are invaluable life skills, that we all need to master to make smart decisions as we move through life. Way to be an amazing team, Cedric and Pete, you definitely deserve to be the Match of the Month!
Meet La’Najah and Taylor, this match just celebrated their first Match-A-Versary, and what a year it was. From the DIA to tie dying and water balloon fights, ice skating to baking cookies, these two have had a lot of fun while building a strong foundation of trust. When asked if she would like to renew her match for another year La’Najah answered, “Yes, forever!” Congratulations to both of you ladies on an excellent first year together, and on being October’s Match of the Month!
Taylor regularly makes time to work with La’Najah on her reading skills. This is an area that La’Najah specifically asked Taylor to help her with. Not only did Taylor listen to La’Najah’s request, but she also goes out of her way to make sure the work they do together remains fun and interesting, with trips to the library, new books, and educational computer games. By allowing La’Najah to set her own goals, and keeping the learning process fun and interesting, Taylor is igniting her Little’s potential by encouraging her enjoyment of learning, and rewarding the fact that she advocated for herself by asking for help.
When La’Najah suffered a loss in her family, Taylor again was there to listen to her Little. Through that difficult time, the bonds of trust in this match deepened as Taylor opened up to La’Najah sharing her own experience with family loss. It was important to Taylor that La’Najah understood that the difficult and complicated feelings she was experiencing were normal and it was ok to feel them, it was ok to cry. When a child is empowered with the knowledge that the difficult feelings they are experiencing are normal, and nothing to be embarrassed about, it encourages growth and confidence, and better prepares them to handle life’s inevitable challenges.
La’Najah’s mom describes Taylor as, a cheerful and positive role model who always has good advice for her daughter. She says she has seen many positive changes in La’Najah since the match began, including that she is more adventurous. La’Najah’s newfound sense of adventure is likely due to the increase in confidence that comes with a Big like Taylor. A Big who listens to, shares power with, and sets an example for their Little encourages them to grow into an individual who is not only aware of their own potential, but also has the courage to stand and defend it. Congrats to both La’Najah and Taylor on the excellent team you have built, you definitely deserve to be Match of the Month.
Meet Claire and Nicole, from their first meeting this match bonded quickly over their many shared interests, such as animals and art. While they share broad interests, they tend to have expertise in different areas. For example, they both love art but Claire excels at watercolor while Nicole loves to crochet. This means that while exploring their shared interests they are also learning from each other. Matches that learn together, grow together and build deeper relationships. Congrats to you both one being September’s Match of the Month!
One of Claire and Nicole’s biggest shared interests is animals, so it’s not surprising that one of their first outings was to see the holiday lights at the Detroit Zoo. Both of them recall seeing the lights and learning about the animals as one of their most memorable outings to date. Their shared passion for animals made everything more exciting, while the delicious hot chocolate kept them warm.
Claire has a very impressive Lego collection and enjoys complex builds, like her Hogwarts Castle. Nicole took her to see the giant Lego towers at The Henry Ford Museum. They thoroughly enjoyed the impressive builds and learning how the builders overcame obstacles such as shape, rotation, and colors that do not easily translate to the standard Lego bricks. In sharing this experience Nicole is not only supporting Claire’s interest, but she is opening the door for her to dream bigger and look at future builds through a new lens.
While Claire and Nicole only had 3.5 months together before Covid-19 hit, they have not the challenges of this new reality pull them apart. In fact, they found a way to grow even closer over regular weekly zoom calls. They have made many big plans for after they feel safe getting together again, including a collaborative art project. We can not wait to see what you two come up with! Congratulations again on being The Match of the Month.
Meet Brooklyn and Margaret, these quiet hot chocolate connoisseurs have a lot in common and enjoy the simple things. According to Brooklyn’s mom, this match makes a fabulous team, they seem made for each other. Big congrats to this fabulous duo on being the Match of the Month!
Brooklyn and Margaret love to spend time together at the library. They work on Brooklyn’s homework, read new books and participate in library-sponsored activities together. When matches participate in educational activities they are able to learn and grow together. It can open doors and offers the opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective.
When we asked Brooklyn’s Mom which healing gestures she valued the most, she put listening on the top of her list. Margaret also values listening to her Little. She always gives Brooklyn a choice when they are planning their next activity. This small gesture shows Brooklyn that her opinion matters, and empowers her with the confidence to make other choices.
Brooklyn and Margaret have built a strong bond through their shared interests and similar personalities. They have learned to be totally comfortable just sitting in silence together. They have embraced the fact that neither of them is very talkative, and that they can enjoy each others company without the need to fill every minute with small talk. Margaret has observed that their quiet moments together make their conversations more meaningful. When a Big accepts a Little for exactly who they are, it builds up their sense of self-worth. Way to be yourselves ladies, and congrats again on being the Match of the Month!
Meet Autumn and Zakiya, these two will be celebrating their 1 year Match-a-versary in Aug, and they are our July Match of the Month! Zakiya loves that Autumn is outgoing and always willing to try new things. Autumn has expressed gratitude for Zakiya’s kindness and thoughtfulness, she has learned a lot from the example Zakiya sets. This match has overcome a few challenges in their first year together, but they came through it stronger than ever and are looking forward to their next adventure.
From their very first outing to Rolling Hills, where they tried everything the park had to offer; to Zombie Zap where Autumn discovered she loves VR gaming, these two have been on a mission to find new things to experience together. While in quarantine this match found new ways to stay connected and grow even closer through regular facetime calls and virtual gaming. Matches who experience new things together build strong bonds through shared memorable moments.
Zakiya always makes an effort to celebrate Autumn’s accomplishments. Autumn is an excellent student, she is always on top of her school work, and adjusted quickly to learning from home. Zakiya lets Autumn know how awesome her academic achievement is by regularly bragging about how smart her Little Sister is. She made an extra effort to celebrate Autumn when she earned the Student of the Month award. When Little’s feel celebrated in this way it emphasizes the value of their hard work and motivates them to keep it up!
Autumn and Zakiya were recently able to get together for the first time since quarantine began. They were able to celebrate being the Match of the Month and reflect on how far they have come in the last 11 months. Zakiya reflected that the biggest thing she has gained from the match is the understanding that you can learn from someone no matter what their age. She said they are always learning from each other. Autumn said the match has taught her the importance of mutual respect and quality time. We are so proud to see how this match has grown together, and can not wait to see what they do next. Congrats to Autumn and Zakiya on being the Match of the Month!
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!
Changing Lives-- One Story at a Time.