Monthly Archives: May 2011

Guest Post: Little Sister KK’s First Celtics game

Guest Post by Big Sister Sara Shelmerdine

Little Sister Makaylah ("KK") at her first Celtics game

From the moment I met my 7-year-old Little Sister KK, she made it clear to me that she was a huge Celtics fan.  We were introduced through Big Sister in September of 2010 and became fast friends.

An opportunity came in early December through the program and an anonymous donor for two tickets to a game against the Bulls.  I called KK’s grandmother, Joanne, the day before to tell her and she was so excited. She couldn’t wait to tell KK that she would be going to her first game.  I picked KK up on game day and she was decked out from head to toe in Celtics gear.  Everything that night was exciting — from walking into the arena and going up the escalators together, to buying popcorn and slush. We found our seats and were so close to the court;  you really felt like you were apart of the action.  KK didn’t stop smiling for a second and we stayed in the stands for a while even after the game ended.  I explained to her on our walk home that the tickets were donated to us by someone we don’t even know and she said “Wow, they must have really wanted us to have fun!” The experience was something I will never forget, and I hope she won’t either.


We’d like to thank all the people and companies who donate tickets to Big Sister as they give our Little Sisters a chance to have wonderful experiences such as these.  If you are a company or individual who would like to make a ticket donation, please contact our Program Support Coordinator, Jen Gentile at jgentile@bigsister.org or (617) 236-8366.

P.S. The Celtics beat the Bulls 104-92 (Dec 3, 2010).

Little Sisters Get a Taste for Small Business on Lemonade Day

Little Sister Lulu with the Babson College mascot at her Jamaica Pond Lemonade Stand

Little Sister Lulu and the Babson College Mascot at her well-placed lemonade stand on Jamaica Pond.  Update: Lulu won the Mayor Menino’s Healthiest Lemonade Contest.

On May 1st 2011, Little Sisters accompanied by their Big Sisters set up lemonade stands all over Boston as part of Lemonade Day, a national event dedicated to inspiring young children to be entrepreneurs by teaching them how to operate their own small business.

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston pairs girls ages seven to fifteen with a caring and supportive mentor who can help them realize their full potential. During the course of their mentoring relationship and friendship, a Big Sister will introduce her Little Sister to many new ideas and possibilities for her life and career that she might not have otherwise considered. Big Sister Association is actively seeking partnerships and opportunities that provide enriching experiences for the girls we serve. It was with this in mind that we partnered with Babson College, along with Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Friends of the Children – Boston, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families to bring Lemonade Day to Boston for the first time.

With the help of a mentor, the young entrepreneurs were shown how to establish their business, including setting goals, and creating and executing a plan. Most importantly, the exercise tries to teach the participants basic financial management and includes a component of philanthropy. The children are encouraged — after covering their expenses and paying back their investors — to open a youth savings account so they may save a little, spend a little and give a little, donating a portion of their profits to a local charity of their choice.

Big Sister Stefanie Magner reports, “Mariana and I had a wonderful day, and can’t wait to participate in Lemonade Day again next year. My favorite part was watching her learn, and really begin to put things together and understand all of the pieces involved in running a business. I also think community involvement is very important, as it was so wonderful to see how excited she got every time someone came up to purchase, especially one of her teachers at her school who drove over because of a flyer she gave to him. It was like watching her realize that she is important.”

Mariana selected Children’s Hospital Boston as her charity of choice. “We are planning on going [Friday] to bring the money in person, because I want her to experience giving in person,” says Magner.

Little Sister Patricia similarly enjoyed learning the different steps of running a business. She plans to donate her $91 profits to help her Big Sister Amanda’s brothers who are racing in the annual Pan Mass Challenge.

Littlle Sister Nailea on LemonadeDayLittle Sister Nailea plans to take her mom to a special lunch with the profits from her next lemonade stand.

After 4 hours of selling to happy customers, Little Sister Nailea didn’t want the day to end.  Her Big Sister Erin Mahoney reports “She kept convincing me to make a little more lemonade for a few more customers. Not only did we have a great time together, but I was really proud of Nailea for grasping the concept of “spend, save, give.” She found self confidence in being able to buy a new outift for herself, gifts for her family, and still having money to save. We plan to hold a summertime lemonade stand when school is out.  Nailea wants to use the money she earns to take her mom out for a special lunch.”

Talking to Your Little Sister about Music Lyrics: Rihanna’s S&M

Rihanna Illustration by Quaymberley Dudley

Rihanna Illustration by Quaymberley Dudley

Twenty-three year old Robyn Rihanna Fenty’s new hit single “S&M” has been a popular song and a hot topic since the start of spring. Women of all ages, Big Sisters and Little Sisters included, bob their heads to the hit single despite the negative press caused by its provocative lyrics and David LaChapelle inspired music-video.

The song’s title stands for sadomasochism, the “interaction, especially sexual activity, in which one person enjoys inflicting physical or mental suffering on another person, who derives pleasure from experiencing pain.” The subject matter, likely chosen to compete with Lady Gaga’s bawdy antics, is disturbing given Rihanna’s recent experiences with domestic violence. The song’s music video, which alternately features the artist tied up and later walking Perez Hilton on a leash, has been flagged on YouTube for being “inappropriate for some users” and requires verification that the viewer is 18 years or older.

When the song’s lyrics drift into the ears of a Big and Little Sister match, Big Sisters often report becoming uneasy, unsure of the appropriateness of modeling singing along to the tune, or of going along with their Little Sister doing so. While there are several factors that will determine how different matches might address this issue, including, but not limited to, the Little Sister’s age and the relationship between the Big and Little Sister, there are some general steps you can take to be prepared if this situation arises.

First, do a self-check and take time to figure out how you feel about the song. What are your own values and how comfortable are you talking about it with your Little Sister? It might be best to let your Little Sister bring questions to you that arise organically from her perspective. Many of us have listened to a song from our childhood as an adult and thought, “Ohhh, that’s what that song is about!?” If a Little Sister does have questions about the song, remember that you do not have to have all the answers! Hearing your Little Sister out and supporting her by asking open-ended questions can sometimes be the best response of all. As the popular phrase goes, call your match support social worker if you need extra advice! Knowing your match well and providing you with individualized and specific support are what match support social workers are all about. So turn up the radio with the confidence that you can tackle any top 40 hit that comes your way.

— Jaclyn DesRosier, Social Worker, Community-Based Mentoring

Evelyn Reyes of Boston Latino TV writes about being a cancer survivor and her choice to become a Big Sister

Evelyn Reyes, Boston Latino TV host, writes about how being a cancer survivor changed her perspective on her life and pushed her to prioritize volunteerism. In 2011, she will become a Big Sister.

Cancer is a six letter word that can wreak havoc in your life. It also changes you as a person. Most of the cancer survivors I know all say the same thing: “Cancer changed me.” I am going to have to agree on this.  I have always tried to be helpful in my community and to help other people; however, cancer gave me that extra motivation to go forward with my desires and put them into action.

When the year 2011 came around, it found me reflective and thoughtful. Reflective about what I was doing with my life and who were the people in my life who truly meant something to me and were really supportive of me. Thoughtful about what direction I wanted my life to go in and where it was right now.

I found myself thinking that I wanted to do things that had a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of people. I’ve been refocusing my efforts to find what those things could be.
.
.
.
I know that girls these days can use as much guidance as they can get. After having been an influential presence in the lives of my nieces (Kathyria, Yasirya and Yerika) I thought it would be a fulfilling activity for me to be a big sister to a young girl. I have already had my interview with the Big Sister Social worker. Soon I will take a two day orientation and then I wait for a match. Once I am matched, then I get to meet my Little Sister and her family and see if we all like each other. I can’t wait to share my love of laughter, arts, music, food, dance, reading and traveling with my little sister. I am sure we will be a positive influence on each other.

Evelyn Reyes interviews First Lady of Massachusetts Diane Patrick at  Big Sister’s  60th Anniversary celebration February 17, 2011

The Reality of Life-Size Barbie

NBC Today Show: Student uses life-size Barbie to battle eating disorders

Like many girls in America, Galia Slayen played with Barbie Dolls when she was growing up.  In high school when she had long since outgrown the doll she decided to use the familiar childhood toy to educate her peers about body image issues. With the help of her neighbor, Slayen created a “Life-Size Barbie” with the famous doll’s exact proportions, 39-18-33. (For reference the average measurements of an American woman today are 35-27-37.5).

The result was shocking, and as Slayen says, “Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.”

Galia Slayen and her life-size Barbie Doll. Source: Huffington Post

This body conforming obsession is one that many girls deal with on a daily basis.  In our semester and year-long Group mentoring workshops, we address this and many other issues facing adolescent girls.  The topics we discuss include Media Literacy & Body Image, to help girls develop critical thinking skills in response to media messages and celebrate the unique qualities inherent in themselves and others; Self-Esteem, to educate girls on the relationship between self-esteem and behavior, outlook and decisions; and  Stress, Coping & Self-Care, to help girls to evaluate the origin of stress in their lives as well as ways that it can impact them both positively and negatively. Visit  www.bigsister.org for a more detailed list of topics we cover in our Group Mentoring programs. Click here to find out how to volunteer.

Some interesting real life facts about Barbie [via HuffPo]:

• There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
• The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• Over a billion dollars worth of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993, making this doll big business and one of the top 10 toys sold.
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”

Big Sister’s 1st Podcast: Meet Little Sister Zaire and Big Sister Katie

Little Sister Zaire and Big Sister Katie.

Meet Little Sister Zaire and Big Sister Katie (Download the mp3, 3minutes 40 seconds)

Big Sister is trying something new to celebrate our 60th anniversary of mentoring  Greater Boston’s girls. We’re launching a new podcast series called a “Perfect Match” where you get to hear directly from our Big and Little Sisters.  Our first podcast features Little Sister Zaire, a fifth grader at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, and her School-Based Big Sister Katie Abarr who have been matched since March 2010.

From our 2010 Annual Report:

The first thing you notice when you meet Little Sister Zaire is her self-confidence. She is a smart and bold fifth grader at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. She knows what she likes and doesn’t like and isn’t afraid to tell you. This quality often so rare in girls her age who are struggling with self-esteem and who are starting to exchange “I want” with “whatever you want”, often gets her into hot water. In her own words, it has also gotten her mistakenly labeled as a “trouble kid”.

In describing why she wanted a Big Sister, Zaire wrote that she wanted to be able to share life stories with her, to be able to socialize, to practice her multiplication tables and to be able to tell her the important things that were going on in her life. The subtext is also that she wanted someone who would understand her and who could see through her impatience and occasional brashness to the real her. She wanted “her Big Sister to know that she’s a good kid, [and that she’s] really fun and a jokester.”

Twenty-four year old Big Sister Katie Abarr has been matched with Zaire in our School-Based Mentoring program for a little over a year now. She wanted to be a Big Sister because she remembered the women in her life who had made an effort to spend time with her as a child and how much it had meant to her.

“I will always remember the people who went out of their way to take care of me or mentor me or just make me laugh,” says Katie. “That made a big impact on me and I’d like to do that for someone else.”

According to their match support social worker Sara Pizzute, Katie turned out to be the perfect mentor for friendly and thoughtful Zaire. A coordinator at the Westin Boston Waterfront, Katie remembers being equally opinionated at Zaire’s age. She would also get reprimanded for testing and trying to bend rules that didn’t make sense to her, such as not chewing gum or the requirement to keep her uniform shirt tucked in at all times. As a mentor, she is very understanding of Zaire’s temperament, but sets firm limits and helps her become more patient and positive in her overall attitude towards teachers and her fellow students. Zaire is grateful to know that she isn’t alone. She is also happy to have guidance on how to constructively deal with her feelings of frustration and to have a cool adult she can laugh with and be goofy.

Zaire recalls that the pair got along immediately when they first met with “no awkward moments”. They had a lot in common. They liked yoga, were self-proclaimed girly-girls, and both had a good sense of humor. Zaire also approved of Katie’s fashion sense. “She knows how to dress. Like me.”

On Friday afternoons when they are together, they often do homework and talk about their New Year’s Resolutions — Zaire’s are to get good grades, have a more positive attitude and stop biting her nails. Katie’s resolution is to talk to her mother more often. Sometimes though, they don’t need to say a word and can just sit in comfortable silence and color. They understand each other.

And then there are those multiplications tables. According to Zaire, Katie “really likes math”. Big Sister Katie has increased Zaire’s appreciation of math and has helped her recognize her skills in the subject. “She’s actually really good at math. She just thinks that she isn’t. … She’s really smart.”

When asked about her experience as a Big Sister, Katie answers that it has taught her to stop and make time for the things that are more important in life, the things that are more heartfelt, “which is how I feel about hanging out with Zaire.”

Video: Start the conversation with your Little Sister about internet safety

Do you want to talk more about internet safety with your Little Sister, but don’t know where to begin? Here are three videos submitted to Trend Micro’s annual internet safety contest that might help you start the conversation.

Message Sent” shows one of the many painful consequences of sexting.

Too Much Information” humorously advises against over-sharing online.

And finally, do you ever wonder what life is like for people after their YouTube video goes viral?

All three pieces give the same message: “Think before you click!” Your Little Sister needs to understand that what she posts on the internet or otherwise distributes digitally can be used in ways that she never intended. Once it’s out there in cyberspace, she no longer has control over what happens to the content, who sees it or how they choose to respond to it.

As a bonus, here is this year’s Grand Prize Winner “Where are You?“, a spoken word piece explaining the two sides of being an online citizen.

Fun things to do with your Little Sister (May Edition)

Earthfest

Bring your Little Sister to Boston's biggest free radio station concert, Earthfest, on Saturday May 21

Sunset Hike

Stoneham, MA
Wednesday, May 4, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Join a DCR Ranger for a beautiful sunset hike with your Little Sister! Hike to Bear Hill to watch the sun set in the western sky. If you’re lucky, you may glimpse Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Please dress in gym clothes and sneakers, and bring binoculars if you own them. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. You will meet at the Sheepfold parking lot by the bulletin board, right off of Rte 28, Stoneham, MA. Please visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/events.htm for more information about this event.


Open Studios

Needham, MA
Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Gorse Mill Studios in Needham is opening their doors for two fun-filled craft days! You and your Little Sister will see glassblowing and pottery demonstrations as well as have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of craftspeople, view their artwork on display, and shop for jewelry, photographs, hand-blown glass, and more! This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is located at 31 Thorpe Rd, Needham, MA 02494. Please call (339) 225-0743 for more information about this event.


Wake Up the Earth Festival & Parade

Jamaica Plain, MA
Saturday, May 7, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Spring has returned! Celebrate with your Little Sister at the Wake Up the Earth Festival & Parade! This year’s festival will include dancers, stiltwalkers, drummers, music, storytelling, crafts, children’s activities, and more! This festival celebrates Jamaica Plain’s rich cultural diversity and community arts. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event will be located at the Stoney Brook T-stop Park in Jamaica Plain. Please call (617) 524-6373 for more information about this event.


Art Walk

Boston, MA
Saturday, May 7, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Explore Boston’s changing Fort Point and see the unique waterfront warehouse district that is one of New England’s largest arts communities. Explore the studios of painters, jewelers, ceramicists, photographers, sculptors, and more! There will be art demonstrations, speakers, and hands-on activities. You and your Little Sister can walk from building to building on this art adventure! This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is located at 300 Summer St M1, Boston MA, 02210. Please call (617) 423-4299 for more information about this event.


Healthy Kids Day!

Brighton, MA
Saturday, May 7, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Celebrate a healthy and happy lifestyle with your Little Sister! Come have some fun at Healthy Kids Day and eat free healthy snacks, participate in Zumba, rock wall climbing, nutrition activities, open swim, and relay races! This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is located at 615 Washington St, Brighton MA, 02135. Please call (617) 782-3535 for more information about this event.


Can Drive

Stoneham, MA
Sunday, May 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Help the environment by contributing to a worthy cause! Bring your bottles and cans to the Stoneham Zoo! All of the proceeds from this fundraiser benefit conservation efforts supported by Zoo New England, Stone Zoo, and Franklin Park Zoo. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is at 149 Pond Street, Stoneham, MA. Please visit www.stonezoo.org for more information about this event.


Kite & Flight Festival

Dorchester, MA
Saturday, May 14, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Bring your Little Sister to the Kite & Flight Festival for a day of kite making, kite flying, and fun games! Bring a spring picnic or hop on a free bike for some exercise around the park!This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is located at Franklin Park, Seaver St, Dorchester, MA. Please call (617) 953-5315 for more information about this event.


Mountain Bike Discovery Day

Milton, MA
Sunday, May 15, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Practice your peddling with your Little Sister! Join DCR Rangers on guided rides for all ages and abilities. There will be fun obstacles and challenges throughout the tours. Bring your own bikes and helmets. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. This event is located at Blue Hill River Road in Milton, MA. Please email Tom.Bender@state.ma.us for more information and a meeting location.


Earth Fest

Boston, MA
Saturday, May 21, 11:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Bring your Little Sister to Boston’s biggest free radio station concert! This event is sponsored by Radio 92.9 and will have a variety of new artists performing! There will be a kid friendly area called The Kids Planet which will feature entertainment, earth themed activities, and educational displays. Yummy free healthy treats will be provided by Whole Foods Market! This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sister of all ages. This event is located at the Hatch Shell in Boston. Please visithttp://www.myradio929.com/EarthFest.aspx for more information and a map of the event.


Canoe Exploration!

East Boston, MA
Saturday, May 28, 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Have a great morning in a canoe with your Little Sister! Explore Belle Isle and enjoy the spring weather! You might get wet, so dress appropriately! Participants must be able to swim! Canoes and life jackets will be provided. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters ages 10 and up. Pre-registration is required for this event. Call (781) 485-2803 ext. 109 to register. You will meet at Belle Isle parking lot, Bennington St, East Boston, MA.