Monthly Archives: September 2011

UPDATE: Big Sister Amanda & Little Sister Mickaella

Mickaella & Amanda

Big Sister Amanda Martinez and Little Sister Mickaella share why they believe in the power of mentoring. Amanda, a former Little Sister herself, was named a 2011 Ignite Award winner at Youth Mentoring Day at the State House. Thanks so much to Mass Mentoring Partnership and Conover Tuttle Pace for creating this piece and helping us highlight the impact mentoring can have on a young girl’s life.


Big Sister Amanda Martinez was named  the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.

Patriots Running Back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Big Sister Amanda Martinez, and Rich Greif of Mass Mentoring Partnership

Patriots Running Back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Big Sister Amanda Martinez, and Rich Greif of Mass Mentoring visit Morse Pond School in Falmouth to promote volunteerism.

Amanda Martinez had a Big Sister when she was younger and always wanted to return the favor. When she moved to Boston she became a Big Sister and has been matched with Mickaella, a middle school student, since January 2008. They enjoy doing arts and crafts, learning about new cultures, meeting new people or trying new foods and being active in the summer rock climbing, rollerblading, bike riding, and swimming.

Amanda loves being a Big Sister because “it gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact in a young girl’s life and to learn about other people’s life experiences.” She also believes that “it is important for girls today to have positive female mentors because there is a lot of negative messaging that is pinpointed towards girls and having a mentor gives a young girl an opportunity to concentrate on what she has to offer on the inside.”

Mickaella loves having a Big Sister because “it is like having an automatic friend. Without my Big Sister I would not know how much fun it is to eat Indian food or that I am smarter than I think I am. Amanda has also helped me learn that there is more to life if you look at it from a different point of view.”

Neighborhood Highlights: Cambridge

Cambridge, is not only home to two of the most prestigious universities in the world, it also has some great match activities.  In particular, check out the Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology museums.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

26 Oxford St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Adults: $9
Children: $6

Harvard Natural History Museum

The Harvard Natural History Museum is the public face of Harvard’s three research museums: the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum. On display are more than 5,000 minerals and gemstones and well over 500 mammalian artifacts, such as stuffed rhinoceroses, giraffes and three whale skeletons. There are even prehistoric animals, such as dinosaurs, a giant sloth and a mastodon. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, pick up a “Marauder’s Map” to explore the hundreds of animals and to test your knowledge of Harry! From Wednesday July 27th to Wednesday August 24th, admission is half-price from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s definitely worth the seven minute walk from Harvard Square.

Charles River Bike Path

Memorial Dr.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Enjoying the Charles River Bike Path doesn’t mean just biking; you can walk, run, roller blade or scooter. At this time of year, you will likely see crew teams and kayakers using the river to their fullest advantage. Make sure  you also take in the panoramic views of Boston, such as the gold dome of the State House and the slopes of Beacon Hill.

Harvard Art Museums

485 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tues-Sat 10am-5pm
Adults: $9
Children: FreeHarvard art museums

The Harvard Art Museums include the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museums. Currently the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger are closed for renovations, but the Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway has been reinstalled with some of the finest works from all three sites, including art by Picasso, Pollack, Georgia O’Keeffe, and others. Whether you are interested in classical or modern art, the Harvard Art Museums have enough exhibits to keep you busy all day long.

Schlesinger Library

3 James St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Mon-Fri 9:30am-5:00pm

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library was originally established in 1943 by Maud Wood Park, a leader in the woman’s suffrage movement. It holds materials focused on women’s history in the United States and abroad, including 2,500 manuscripts from women’s rights movements, 80,000 printed volumes covering topics such as women’s rights, women’s health, women of color and women in other cultures and 90,000 photographs.

MIT Museum

265 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Daily 10am-5pm
Adults: $7.50
Children: $3.00

If you like learning about robots, hacking, and holography, the MIT Museum is the place to visit! Through interactive exhibitions, the MIT Museum showcases the fascinating world of science and technology.  The newest exhibit, “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things” starts in September.  Visit on the 3rd Sunday of every month to get in for free!

Charles Riverboat Tours

100 Cambridge Side Drive
Cambridge, MA 02141

Daily 10am-4pm
Adults: $14.70
Children: $8.40

Charles Riverboat Boston

The Charles Riverboat Company gives you the chance to take in the most historic sights of Boston and Cambridge all from the relaxing confines of a riverboat. Whether you want to learn about Boston’s history or just wish to wave to the array of boaters sharing the river, you will enjoy this scenic tour. Tours run daily until October and are 60 minutes long.

Announcement: Chelsea Clinton Will Be the Special Guest at Big in Boston, Our 60th Birthday Party

Big in Boston 2011: Every Girl, a Masterpiece

Boston, MA – September 19, 2011 – Big Sister Association of Greater Boston announced that Chelsea Clinton will be their Special Guest at their 60th anniversary celebration, Big in Boston,  to be held at the Museum of Fine Arts on November 12, 2011. Elaine Schuster will be given the 2011 Believe in Girls (B.I.G.) award for her philanthropy and personal dedication to the healthy development of girls. Big Sister’s past honorees include City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, Sheriff Andrea Cabral, Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson and Boston Herald Editor Shelley Cohen, among others.

The announcement was made by Big Sister CEO Deborah Re at “In the Company of Great Women,” a reception on Thursday, September 15, 2011 celebrating Mrs. Schuster and all of the agency’s honorees from past years. The private reception was hosted by Boston philanthropist Harriet Lewis of the Grand Circle Corporation, at her Back Bay home.

Big in Boston will be held in the new Art of the Americas wing of the MFA.

Related Article:

Chelsea Clinton will support Big Sisters [Boston Globe]

CEO Deborah Re’s Op-Ed on the Negative Impact of Marketing on Girls [Boston Herald]

Over the weekend, Saturday’s Boston Herald included an Op-Ed that our CEO Deborah Re wrote regarding a t-shirt that said “I’m too pretty to do homework, so I have my brother do it for me”.

Although JCPenney pulled the t-shirt from the online “shelf” before the Op-Ed was published, Big Sister felt it was necessary to give girls a voice on this very important issue. We are proud of this piece, and of the opportunity it gives us to show that Big Sister Association of Greater Boston is the leader in the healthy development of girls.

As you were saying: T-shirt Message Offends by Big Sister CEO Deborah Re [Boston Herald]

"Who would wear a T-shirt that says they are stupid?"

Women are graduating from high school and college in record numbers. They are on corporate boards, they are leading major institutions, they are in the Senate and they have become secretaries of State.

So does a T-shirt that says “I’m too pretty to do my homework so I’ll have my brother do it” really have an impact on girls’ chances for achieving success?

You bet it does. For every statistic about girls succeeding, there is another that shows the negative impact of marketing messages leading to lower levels of self-esteem, higher rates of depression, risky behaviors and poor life choices. When girls are taught to value their appearance to such an extreme without a responsible adult in their lives who can counter these messages, their opportunities will be compromised.

JCPenney pulled this T-shirt from the company’s Web site on Aug. 31 with the following statement: “JCPenney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the ‘Too pretty T-shirt’ does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale.”

How did the shirt make it to the online shelf in the first place? Weren’t there men on their creative team who have daughters and know the impact of messages like these? Weren’t there women on the team who can look back on being an adolescent remembering the insecurity of trying to fit in? This shirt was being marketed to adolescent girls at a pivotal time in their development, a time when they begin to internalize messages about what it means to be a girl. The implied message that doing homework — i.e. acquiring knowledge and thinking critically — is not feminine.

I caught enough of a radio talk show discussion of the subject to know that there are many adults, including the hosts of the show, who think that messages like this one are inconsequential. The callers and hosts overwhelmingly agreed that people are simply overreacting to a harmless and trivial T-shirt. A mother called in and said that she would buy the T-shirt for her 12-year-old daughter; another caller said that it was ridiculous that people were upset, and that he wore a T-shirt in college that said “Got a sister?”

The point they are missing is that they, as adults, have context for these messages to help them process the information and dismiss them as absurd. A young girl does not have that context.

As a community of adults that supports the healthy development of children, we are responsible for reinforcing positive, empowering and constructive messages.

We want girls to know that their appearance is not their most valuable asset.

We do not want our daughters to think that they need to look a certain way or dress a certain way to be accepted.

We want them to know that being pretty and being smart are not mutually exclusive. And, given all the challenges confronting our educational system, why risk sending a message to girls, and boys as well, that doing homework is not important?

As I thought about this issue I decided to solicit the opinion of the T-shirt’s target demographic. When asked what she thought of the T-shirt, my friend’s newly minted 12-year-old daughter Cassidy responded, “Who would wear a T-shirt that says they are stupid?”

Let’s hope Cassidy can stay strong against all the other marketing assaults that are coming her way, as the T-shirt is hardly the only offender.

As you were saying: T-shirt Message Offends [Boston Herald]

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder on Why She Chose to Become a Mentor

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder

Mass Mentoring Partnership recently published a great guest post by Big Sister Lindsay  Snyder, Director of External Relations & Development at the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), on why she become a mentor:

A few months ago, while eating lunch at a T.G.I. Friday’s with Destyne, my Little from the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston program, she asked me why I chose to become a mentor. We were about to dig into the “Brownie Obsession,” this ridiculously delicious, dense sundae, when I said, “Well, because I was so fortunate to have so many mentors in my life, I wanted to be on the other side and give back…plus, you’re fun to be around and I’ve learned a lot from YOU.”

When I decided to become a mentor, I originally thought about it in terms of “paying it forward.” I have been blessed with several strong female mentors in my life, including my grandmother, mother and three women I used to work with at the Crittenton Women’s Union. I learned acceptance and forgiveness from my grandmother, strength and perseverance from my mother, and how to be a dedicated, passionate advocate for nonprofits from my former colleagues.

Now that I’ve been a mentor for two years, I think about the things – little and big – that I’ve learned from my Little – most of all, she keeps me in check. You need that when life gets hectic.

Read the rest of the post on Mass Mentoring Partnership’s blog.