Each month, Big Brothers Big Sisters recognizes one outstanding Big for a strong commitment to his or her Little and to our overall mentoring mission. Read about how these Bigs connect with their Littles, what they talk about with their matches and how they overcome challenges while growing in their mentor friendships.
Big Sister Heather and Little Sister Alyssa were matched in July 2008. Often the duo can be found cooking together, watching movies and participating in events hosted by Big Brother Big Sisters. From the beginning the two have shared a love of the outdoors, which has translated into hiking and biking adventures and a canoe trip on the St. Croix River.
Heather was initially drawn to become a Big Sister by a hope of having a long-term relationship in which she could watch a child grow and have the chance to be a positive influence in her life.” Heather has indeed seen her Little Sister develop. “She has made so many positive changes in her life over the last few years, including improving her school work, becoming healthier through eating well and exercising, learning to thrive in a city (she knows the bus system like the back of her hand), trying new activities and sports, and making new friends,” says Heather.
According to Heather, one of the most unique and rewarding aspects of the relationship is learning about Alyssa’s heritage. Over the last twenty-seven months, Alyssa has shared her knowledge about Ojibwe and Native American culture and customs with her Big Sister.
Heather is grateful for how her Little Sister opens up with her, but she also admires how Alyssa interacts with others. “Alyssa is also very empathetic and inclusive. She understands how others are feeling and clearly cares about her friends and family,” she says.
The ‘sisters’ frequently talk about Alyssa’s plans for life after high school. Heather hopes to inspire Alyssa by sharing her own passion for and commitment to education. The two have attended a number of match activities through BBBS’ Education & Enrichment department, including taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Dairy Queen Headquarters and spending an afternoon learning more about veterinary and environment-focused careers.
For Heather, being a Big Sister means honoring where her Little comes from, inspiring her to plan for her future, and enjoying the fun that comes with a true friendship. As soon as Heather’s schedule allowed for time to volunteer, she signed up, and we are thrilled that she did.