Mentoring Relationship Leads to
First Generation College Student
Three years ago, Big Brothers Big Sisters received a call from a very ambitious Daniela asking if there was a mentor available for her to hang out with and help her reach her goals. At the same time, Theresa Stinski called Big Brothers Big Sisters to re-enroll as a mentor. She had been previously matched in another state and felt it was time to mentor in her new community.
At first, like any new friends, questions were asked of, "what is your favorite food... restaurant... movie, etc?" Theresa attended Daniela's Quinceanera (15th birthday/adulthood party). Daniela learned from Theresa how to knit and bake cookies.
Fast forward three years. With a new driver's license, part-time job, CNA certification and AP classes; Daniela is extremely goal driven. With Theresa's help, she is the first in her family to be on track to attend college. Daniela just learned that she is receiving $10,000 in scholarships from Ripon College.
Daniela stated, "I would like to pursue degrees in Pre-Med and Human Biology. In order to be successful you need to have a passion for what you're doing. My goal in life is to be a Family Practitioner."
My Mentor Has Impacted My Life
Hi, my name is Andrew. I am 11 years old and currently matched in Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Community-Based Program. I live with my grandparents. Three years ago, they signed me up to have a mentor. My mentor is Lisa. Lisa visits me once a week at my school during lunch, and over the summer we were part of the “Summer Plus” program which allowed us to continue to meet in the community.
When we meet, we play chess, kickball, eat lunch, do homework and go to ball games. Lisa has been very nice to me. She’s a kind woman. I’ve known her for three years, and I know she cares very much for me. She cares when I am sick by sending a get well card and calling to see if I’m ok. She spends a lot of time with me and even does some things that include her kids and husband. She celebrated with us when my grandparents gained legal custody of me.
She has taught me things about baseball, like when to bunt. She also taught me that grown-ups can have fun going sledding or playing kickball. I have so much fun doing these things, and I sometimes think she has even more fun! We really have fun going to the Big Brothers Big Sisters picnics, baseball games and hay rides.
Lisa has impacted my life. She lets me be myself and accepts me for who I am. I had a background of knowing adults as not so nice people that can’t be trusted. Lisa has helped me to understand that there are some really special and caring people that have made a difference in my life. I know these are memories I will have for the rest of my life. In my heart, I know she will always be my mentor. I hope someday I can make a difference by being a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters when I grow up.
My Life has been Impacted as a Mentor
I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school when a radio commercial for Big Brothers Big Sisters piqued my interest. Growing up with a brother who was eight years older than I, the thought of mentoring a youth was very interesting. At my first interview with Big Brothers Big Sisters, I not only discovered that it would be fun to mentor, but I also realized how much I had to offer.
As a teen, I had lost a very close friend to cancer. Big Brothers Big Sisters asked if I would be interested in mentoring a girl whose mother had cancer and was in remission. They thought that, in case the mother should become ill again, maybe I would be better able to help her deal with the situation. I immediately wanted to mentor this special girl. Little did we know their suggestion would change the course of both our lives.
Nicole was 9 years old and lived with her mother, Kathy. They lived a few short blocks away from my parent's home, where I lived at the time. Kathy and her daughter had always been very close, and Nicole matured early, surrounded mostly by her mother's friends.
Within months of the beginning of our match, Nicole began expressing concern that her mother was not telling her as much as she always had in the past, and I also noticed that her mother had become more reclusive. As a result, Nicole and I spent more time together and grew closer.
After returning from dinner one evening, I got a call I will never forget. Answering the phone I heard Nicole crying on the other end. She said, "Angie, you need to come to the hospital right now; my mom's heart stopped today." I was immediately at her side. It become painfully clear that her mother had been much more ill than anyone had thought. Kathy had requested that she not be placed on life support. All we could do at that point was wait and pray. A few hours later, I was hugging Nicole when suddenly there was silence. Her mother passed away right before our eyes.
Nicole and I held each other for a long time. The priest asked where Nicole was going to go for the evening. Her response was, "with Angie, my mentor" and so she did. We spent Nicole's first night without her mother at my house. We spent moments crying, talking and just being silent. Nicole was safe and not alone, and that was all that mattered.
Almost 19, Nicole is optimistic and very active. She spends most of her time working for her family's business, and she has enrolled in a school for culinary arts. What if I had not heard that commercial, or called that phone number, or not met Nicole? What if I had missed any of those moments or those memories?
Make a Difference in the Life of a Child as Well as Your Own
Last year, I sat through a presentation on the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Going into the presentation I had no real understanding or knowledge of the impact that you can have on someone's life. I've been blessed with an incredible childhood and up bringing and concluded it was only fair to give back to someone else. I applied to become a mentor and was matched to 7 year old Connor in the Site-Based Program. Connor and I meet from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Every week, as I walk through the door to meet Connor I instantly hear "NATE" being yelled across the room. Connor is a huge sports fanatic (like me) so we often take part in football, soccer and kickball games when we meet. Other days we will play board games or build Lego's. I look forward to meeting with him every week. I can see significant growth over the past year in both of us. He has learned to be more polite, how to share, appreciate others and developed a deeper sense of maturity. I, on the hand, have gained a new free spirit. He has shown me how to let loose, enjoy life, not worry about getting grass stains on my clothes and how to live everyday in the moment.
It is easy to set aside 1 hour a week to make a tremendous difference not only in the life of a child but also impact your own life. Most of the time all these kids need is a positive role model, someone to look up to and enjoy their companionship. It's a chance to break free from the hustle and bustle of society and remember what it's like to run, laugh, smile and view the world through someone else's eyes.