RayQueeha’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 last year and a half.
They spend their time talking, doing arts and craft, eating, cooking and working on homework. Joanie and her husband, Michael recently helped RayQueesha with her school science project. They also come to a lot of our group events, especially activity nights, which we host at our office each month with a different theme.
Once matches are made, we provide professional supports to ensure child safety, relationship development and just to check in. During a check in with Joanie, she shared a great story with us.
I wanted to share a very special thing that RayQueesha did for me that made my day! Her and I were talking about making pies because she was making a pie for her neighbor. I told her that I have never made a pie before but that I have always wanted to make Michael a strawberry rhubarb pie because it was his favorite. She asked me a lot of questions about rhubarb, and we ended the conversation saying we should make pies together in a future outing. The next day she texted me and said that she found a recipe online, walked to Kroger and got all of the supplies and that she had made Michael and I a pie and asked if we could come over and share it with her family. This moment made me so happy and I cannot believe she did all of that on her own just do something nice for Michael and I. She is such a special young lady and I just thought it was a story that should be shared with you!
I think that it shows not just how special RayQueesha is, but how strong their relationships is…the consistency and commitment of time that Joanie has given RayQueesha is what so many of our Bigs do for our Littles…just a couple of hours, a couple of times a month can make a world of a difference!
The Early Years - Dennis and Kaleb taking on the Rock Climbing wall at Planet Rock
Kaleb’s mom enrolled him when he was 7 years old...and was looking for someone who could be a male role model, someone he could build trust with and help him come out of his shell…be less shy. About a year after enrolling him, we matched him with Dennis.
Dennis had had three sons of his, the youngest having had just graduated from high school. He had been very involved in their lives, and served as a cub scout leader, and wanted to stay connected to helping kids.
We matched Dennis and Kaleb in May of 2008, which means that they are about to celebrate their 9th Match-A-Versary, as we call them. And really, Dennis and Kaleb have connected over very everday activities. They go out to eat, to movies, ride bikes, go to the park, Dennis helps with homework….and have taken up bowling. It’s something that helped Kaleb’s confidence grow, as he practiced, his skills grew too! But hanging out and showing Kaleb that he’s going to be a consistent person in his life is the real key to their friendship.
Now that Kaleb’s 16, their conversations have shifted. He’s more talkative. They talk more about their lives and plans for the future. Dennis describes it as ‘just natural’. And Kaleb’s mom states that it’s been a great experience for him and his confidence has grown so much in his time with Dennis.
Changing Lives-- One Story at a Time.