Monthly Archives: May 2012

Little Sister Sequoia’s First Red Sox Game

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On Friday, May 25, 100 Big and Little Sisters attended the Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park, thanks to a ticket donation from Highland Street Foundation. Because of Highland Street’s generosity, all 50 matches received t-shirts, hats, water bottles, The Red Sox Century books, and food vouchers, along with tickets to the game. The donation enabled many Little Sisters to attend their first ever professional baseball game, including Little Sister Sequoia, who visited Fenway Park for the first time last Friday.

Big Sister Rebecca and Little Sister Sequoia have been matched for nearly one year, and in that time they have gotten to know each other really well. They’re comfortable being themselves around one another and enjoy spending time together just talking. They’ve also participated in many interesting activities, including bicycling in the Arnold Arboretum and making Valentines and cookies for Sequoia’s class. “Sequoia and I are both a mix of artistic, crafty, and outdoorsy, which is great,” said Big Sister Rebecca. Little Sister Sequoia’s favorite outing prior to Friday’s Sox game was when she and Rebecca visited the indoor trampoline park, SkyZone. Sequoia said, “We did crazy flips! Even off the wall!”

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Rebecca and Sequoia were thrilled to be able to attend the May 25 baseball game. Sequoia got very excited, especially when she and Rebecca walked into the park and she saw Fenway for the first time. “The game was really cool and we were in really cool seats,” said Sequoia. “I could see the bullpen!”

Rebecca and Sequoia loved being able to share this experience with one another. “My Little Sister thought it was a fun activity to do together because I know a lot about baseball and could tell her about it,” Rebecca said. “I especially liked to see how excited she got about the baseball she received from Tampa Bay Ray Fernando Rodney. Sequoia also made friends with another Little Sister, which made the event even more fun!”

Big Sister Association would like to thank Highland Street Foundation for their generous donation!

Meet Little Sister Staci and Big Sister April

The power of this high-achieving pair who has been together for twelve years is underscored by what Little Sister Staci and Big Sister April Cook have in common. Both are the first in their families to go to college. Staci, 19, is a sophomore at Quincy College; April, 33, is a graduate student at Harvard University.

Both Staci and April grew up in working-class families with parents who didn’t strongly encourage their daughters to succeed. As April put it, “I know financially challenged families who focus on education as a way to help their kids achieve a more secure and intellectually rewarding life. This was not the case with my parents.” While April said her parents, who reside in a small town in Pennsylvania, love her and her three siblings, they placed little importance on education when she was growing up.

Staci, who grew up in South Boston, said her mother was unable to cope with a rambunctious and inquisitive eight-year-old. Although she is not in touch with her mother today, she noted that one of the best things her mother did was enroll her in the Big Sister program. The next great thing to happen to Staci was when the agency matched her with her Big Sister April.

April recalls the first time she met Staci. “She was so tiny. All I wanted was for her to like me.” Reflecting on her childhood and the lack of role models in her own life, she continued: “While I didn’t know how I was going to connect with Staci, I knew that I was in it to win.”

In the beginning, April had a humble goal – to tire Staci out to the point that she was calmer and less restless after their outings. But it didn’t take long for April to discover that Staci’s energy could be channeled because she was really smart and ambitious. Staci laughed when she thought of her career aspirations as a middle-school girl. “At first, I wanted to be an Olympic skier; then, an astronomer.”

Today, as Staci approaches the age of making real-life career choices, she says matter-of-factly, “I want to own my own publishing house.” Staci is a voracious reader (she has read all of Jodi Picoult’s books and has even seen the author in person three times), and she loves to write poetry. April proudly adds that Staci was the editor of her high school newspaper in her senior year.

Back then, as soon as April realized just how much talent was packed into this young girl, she began to instill in Staci the importance of excelling in school and setting her sights on college. April even devised a monetary reward system to motivate Staci to get good grades: Staci received $5 for As, $3 for Bs, $2 for Cs. Just hearing April retell this story made Staci excited: “When I got my report card, I couldn’t wait to call April. My first words would be, ‘You owe me $12. We’re going shopping.’” April qualified their shopping sprees: “I didn’t buy her much of anything except books.”

When it came time to apply to college, Staci turned to April for advice. April knew first-hand what it was like to fumble through the college process, so she was determined to give Staci what she never had – a good support system. Together they created a spreadsheet of college characteristics listing things like class size, tuition, location, internship opportunities, application fees, and deadlines.

Holding back tears, April turned to Staci and said, “Staci, you’re amazing. You’re driven, talented, insightful, emotionally comfortable with your feelings, honest, and forthright. Most of all, you’re a good friend.”

When Staci realized just how much time they have spent together over the years, Staci was deeply moved. “Wow, I never realized until now how much you’ve been there for me.” It’s clear that these two are a match for life, who will be there to share each other’s milestones.

Guest Post: Little Sister Molly – The Celtics “Ball Kid”

Big Sister Alex and Little Sister Molly

Little Sister Molly:

It all started on April 12, 2012 when I got the phone call from my Big Sister Alex. She told me that she had BIG news, very big news! She said that we were going to the Boston Celtics game on April 24 and I was going to be a ball kid. I would also get to sit on the court, get a free tee shirt, meet some of the players, and get a signed ball! I was so excited! It was the best news I’ve ever heard. I told all of my friends and they were so happy for me. I couldn’t wait to go to the game, I was counting down the days! But then all the waiting was over and the day finally came.

On the exciting day of April 24, we arrived in Boston to see the Celtics game, but first we got dinner at Halftime Pizza. The place had great food, a mural of famous Boston sports players, and overall a fun atmosphere. Then it was time. We headed over to The Celtics office, which was very well decorated. We saw championship trophies and we took tons of pictures. We met the Community Relationships Coordinator, Ashley. She escorted us to the world famous TD Garden and we took a secret entrance into the building. When we finally saw the court I was AMAZED, I couldn’t believe it! I saw the banners, the Jumbotron, and then I saw the best 3-point shooter in NBA history: Ray Allen! Then Ashley introduced me to the Ball Kid Staff, and I started practicing with the team. I was passing and getting rebounds off of Rajon Rondo! It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done! I met #51 Dooling, and he was my favorite player that I met. Then it was game time. The teams we were playing, the Miami Heat was ready to play. During the first half, the Celtics were down, but not out. I got to sit on the court and the camera was on me the whole time! I got to be on TV! During halftime I got to practice with the Miami Heat! It was another important highlight of the night. When the second quarter started, the Celtics made an unexpected comeback and ended up winning by 12 points! It was such a fun night I loved every minute of it.  I feel so lucky to have been a ball kid for a night and go to a Celtics game with my Big Sister!

Big Sister Alex:

When I got the news that Molly was going to have an opportunity to be a ball kid, I was so thrilled for her!  It reminded me of when I was her age and had the opportunity to go to a UConn game. I really looked up to players like Jenn Rizzoti and Kara Walters.  Going to get my basketball signed by them was a highlight of my childhood years and I felt lucky be able to share an experience like this with my Little Sister.  She did such a wonderful job being the ball kid!  She hustled to get rebounds and pass the balls to the players.  She made me so proud out there!  The entire experience was wonderful to have and something I can truly say neither one of us will forget.

We’d like to thank the Celtics Ticket Exchange for giving Little Sister Molly a chance to have this wonderful experience.  If you are a company or individual who would like to make a ticket donation, please contact our Program Events Coordinator, Jen Gentile at jgentile@bigsister.org or (617) 236-8366.

Big Girls Do Cry

Written by Nikki White, Recruitment Coordinator at Big Sister Association

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On May 3, I attended the Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum, a day of presentations by women leaders from a variety of career paths and generations. It was an inspirational event where women came together to share best practices and advice as leaders. There was one moment, however, that was unsettling for me. One speaker was introduced by her former supervisor who said that she would often come into his office and cry. He instructed this senior executive not to cry at work anymore. When she got to the stage, she praised his advice and said that after that she never cried at work again. Hearing this got me thinking—have women really become fully accepted in the workplace? Or are we still living in the world of Peggy and Megan in Mad Mena world where men dictate to us how we, as women, are supposed to express our feelings?

It is hard to navigate our role as women in a work environment that seems to constantly give us contradicting viewpoints. We are expected to be nurturers at home but at the same time we are seen as weak or incompetent if we embody the same feminine qualities at work. Victoria Brescoll, a researcher at Yale, found in her 2007 study of male and female roles in the workplace that men are more likely to be respected when they express anger, but women who express anger in the workplace are seen as overly emotional. The benefit of integrating women in the workplace over the last 40 years is that we bring diversity to the work: diversity in our opinions, how we strategize, and how we approach problems or tasks. So why let others dictate or squash the diversity we bring—emotion-filled or not? We should not be demonstrating to future women leaders that the only way to be a part of the workforce (which is now split almost equally between men and women) is to accept the 1960s ideas of women’s role in the workplace.

What I would say to any woman who feels like she can’t cry in the workplace is that it is your choice how you want to show your emotions. If you feel that crying makes you appear too weak, I’d say crying is a reaction to an emotional experience, just like laughing. Embrace your wholeness so that others can too. Be proud that you feel and you care—it is a strength, not an impediment.

Do you think it is ever appropriate to cry at work?

Do you believe there is a double standard when it comes to men and women expressing emotion at work?

Little Sisters in Business Makes our City Stronger

Little Sister Dakaja, Lisa Donovan from Kiss 108, and Big Sister Kristen

On May 5th 2012, eight Little Sisters (along with their Big Sisters) participated in Lemonade Day, a national event that inspires children to learn how to operate their own small business by setting up a lemonade stand. By participating in this annual event, children develop leadership and problem solving skills, as well as gain experience in economics. Big Sister was happy to partner with Babson College for the second year in a row to introduce Little Sisters to entrepreneurship as a possible future career option.

This is the reason why Little Sister Dakaja participated this year with the encouragement of her Big Sister Kristen. Dakaja already knows that when she graduates from college she wants to start her own small business. Through Lemonade Day, she had her first taste of this career. Newbury Streetwas a prime location for Dakaja’s many thirsty visitors, including Lisa Donovan from Kiss 108, Suzanne Picher City Director of Lemonade Day at Babson College, and fire fighters from the Boston Fire Department. Dakaja’s favorite customer, Johnny Earle, owner of Johnny Cupcakes, stopped by to applaud Dakaja’s entrepreneurial skills and answered her questions about starting her own business. Dakaja hopes to put the money raised towards new fun match activities with her Big Sister Kristen.

Little Sister Dakaja serving a thirsty fire fighter.

Little Sister Jazmine’s Lemonade Stand on Boylston Street was also a hot spot. She attracted many Red Sox fans with her catchy marketing jingle and dance. One customer even received car window service when she pulled up to Jazmine’s stand. Jazmine plans to add her earnings to her savings and buy something special for her sister in the future.

Little Sister Jazmine with a Boylston Street customer.

Lemonade Day creates an opportunity for budding Little Sister entrepreneurs to learn how to develop a business through goal setting and creating and executing a business strategy. Big Sister Kristen said, “This was a fantastic learning opportunity for both of us – we learned what it takes to be an entrepreneur and all the details that need to be considered.  I think it helped Dakaja have a better understanding for how to budget, how to prioritize, and what not to sacrifice.”

Administrative Professionals Week

Last week, some of you may have signed a card or wished a co-worker a happy Administrative Professionals Day, but did you ever wonder how this holiday got its start? As it turns out, this day has been around for quite a while – 60 years, to be exact! Originally called National Secretaries Week, this celebration was created in 1952 by the National Secretaries Association (now called the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP) along with a group of office product manufacturers and a public relations executive named Harry Klemfuss. These groups had two reasons behind establishing National Secretaries week: recognizing the contributions of hardworking secretaries around the country, and attracting new people to administrative careers.

In 1981, the celebration was renamed Professional Secretaries Week, and finally changed to Administrative Professionals Week in 2000. You may be wondering exactly who would be described as an “administrative professional.” IAAP defines administrative professional as “individuals who are responsible for administrative tasks and coordination of information in support of an office-related environment and who are dedicated to furthering their personal and professional growth in their chosen profession.” Generally, these are administrative assistants, executive assistants, office coordinators, office managers, and receptionists.

In celebration of 2012’s holiday, Big Sister CEO Deb Re was invited to deliver the keynote address at the IAAP Greater Boston Chapter Administrative Professionals Week Dinner on April 27. She talked about her journey from teacher to CEO, and why it is important to make the most of every job, as every job is a learning opportunity.

Happy Administrative Professionals Week to all of the women and men who have chosen careers in this field!