Monthly Archives: March 2013

Spotlight: Big Sister of the Year, Ana Leon

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Ana and Sally have been matched for more than six years. Ana was recently chosen as Massachusetts Big Sister of the Year and will now be considered for the title of National Big Sister of the Year.

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Big Sister?

A: Sally always makes me laugh, whether through a story or if we fall on our butts while ice skating. There is never a dull moment when we are together.

Q: What is one of your favorite activities to do with your Little Sister and what makes it so memorable?

A: My favorite activity is baking with Sally. We have many positive results but sometimes we have a burnt product. I remember our first baking experience. We baked her birthday cake in a toaster oven. It was such a funny idea, but we did a great job! Since then, we’ve become quite creative with science and bake wonderful creations – our favorite is chocolate chip cookies with extra chocolate chips.

Q: What would you say to women who are on the fence about applying to become a Big Sister?

A: If you like the outdoors, or painting, or window shopping, or cooking, or going to the movies, being a Big Sister is for you. Think of the female mentors you have now or had growing up. Not everyone is fortunate to have the same experience, but you can be the woman to stand up and be a mentor to a younger girl. I have seen tremendous growth in Sally, from her confidence in speaking to her ability to make her dreams happen for herself – including being accepted into college.

Q: When you or your Little Sister experience tough times, how do you show support for each other?

A: We love to have conversations over a good meal or dessert. We give each other time to vent, or discuss our troubles, and by the end of the meal we have a better perspective of what we need to do to move forward.

Q: What is something you’ve learned about yourself since becoming a Big Sister?

A: I’ve learned that I can help instill confidence in someone. It does take energy, but knowing that a young person takes on more challenges because of my encouragement is very powerful to me.

March Big Sister Scene

Big Sister Scene Banner

imagesPlanning for the Future

Written by Kristen Smith, Impact Services Coordinator

How does your Little Sister envision her future? Has she talked about the goals she has for herself? As her Big Sister, you may be wondering how you can help your Little Sister select and achieve her plans for the future. First, keep in mind that there are many paths to success. You may need to widen your ideas about career and life decisions to include trade schools, culinary schools, community colleges, parenting, among many others. It is important to take the lead from your Little Sister about how she envisions her future. If she already has an idea of what she would like to do for a career, help her break it down so that she understands all the steps she needs to take to get from where she is now to where she wants to be in the future. If she is unsure of a future career, help her explore her interests through volunteering, a job, or internships. This will help her get experience in a specific field and decide if it is an area that she would like to pursue.

To help her break down her goal into obtainable steps, it is helpful to start by discussing goal setting. Whether it is a long term goal – like her future career – or a short term goal – like wanting to make the basketball team – it is important to know how to set and achieve a goal. One helpful tool is to ensure tyou are setting goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. If you and your Little Sister are interested in exploring these topics, I encourage you to attend Dream Big! a Real Choices, Strong Voices workshop. This workshop will discuss how to create S.M.A.R.T. goals and how Big Sisters can support and encourage their Little Sisters in achieving their goals. You can contact your Match Support Specialist to find out when the workshop for your Little Sister’s age range is being held. Additionally, here are some tips and items to keep in mind when discussing setting goals with your Little Sister.

  • Let your Little Sister take the lead around discussing her future plans. If she expresses an interest in talking about her goals, try to find fun ways to expose her to her options. For example, getting lunch or playing Frisbee on a college campus, or showing your Little Sister your office space.   These are less overwhelming than taking a college tour or bringing her to work with you for a full day.
  • Help her think through the steps she needs to take to reach her goals. For instance, if she wants to be a nurse, she’ll need to think about what training she’ll need to be certified. If you don’t know, look it up! This is a great activity to do together.
  • You can sharpen your Little Sister’s decision making skills by asking questions not giving answers when she comes to you with a problem. For instance, if your Little Sister asks you if she should run for student council, ask her questions to help her think through the pros and cons so she comes to a decision that works for her.
  • Expose her to new things and encourage her interests and skills. Using positive reinforcement and telling your Little Sister when you notice she is good at something is a wonderful way to help her see her potential. Let her know if there are career options that match her interests. For instance, if your Little Sister loves children, ask her if she has considered working in a daycare setting or teaching?
  • Share your own experiences and how you made the choices you made. Particularly make note of the unexpected obstacles that you faced and how you navigated those challenges.
  • Offer a range of perspective – For example, “Some people think it’s really important to go to college right away, which is why I did, because of x, y, z, but other people think it’s great to work and save money after you graduate from high school, while other people think it’s important to focus on doing volunteer work. What do you think?”
  • Encourage your Little Sister to talk with her caregivers about what she wants her future to be. Suggest that she ask her family about how they reached their own goals.

Talk to your Match Support Specialist if you need more specific help or additional resources.

Upcoming Big Sister Events

BSAFashionShowLogoAnnual Fashion Show

Tuesday, March 19, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Don’t miss your chance to see Red Sox’s Jason Varitek and Patriot’s Zoltan Mesko walk down the runway!

Get your discounted tickets here.

Convos-Among-Women-RealityTV SimmonsA Day in the Life of a College Student

Saturday, April 13, 1:00pm-3:00pm

This is for Little Sisters age 14+. Learn about the college experience first hand from Simmons College students. You will receive a tour of the college, learn about the application process, see a dorm room, and more! Email Jen Perrone at jperrone@bigsister.org to reserve your spot.

Real Choices, Strong Voices

For more information on the next Real Choices, Strong Voices workshop, email Margot Phelps at mphelps@bigsister.org.

Be sure to “like” our Facebook page to hear about ticket opportunities for you and your Little Sister. Past ticket opportunities include Patriots tickets, Red Sox tickets, museum tickets, and plays.

Spotlight: Big Sister of the Year, Caroline Kohler

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Big Sister Caroline Kohler has been matched with her Little Sister Nadege for over a year through the Boston College/Franklin Field Program. Caroline recently accepted the Big Sister of the Year award. Pictured above are Caroline and Nadege at Boston College during one of their weekly visits.

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

Q: Initially, what made you want to get involved with Big Sister?

A: I was looking for a way to get involved in an organization I really cared about on campus. I had looked at a couple of different organizations, but none of them really seemed to emphasize service through the development of strong relationships. When I came across Big Sister and learned I would be able to build and develop a relationship with a girl within the context of such an amazing, empowering institution I was ecstatic and immediately jumped at the opportunity to get involved.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about being a Big Sister?

A: The most rewarding part about being a Big Sister is really watching the relationship that I  have with Nadege grow and develop with each passing week. While I see myself as Nadege’s mentor, I first and foremost see myself as her friend. We share our struggles, hopes, and dreams with each other and constantly encourage one another to do our very best. Having only known each other for a year and a half, the mutual respect and admiration that we have for each other is astounding, and I consider myself so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful relationship.

Q: What is something you’ve learned about yourself or about the world since becoming a Big Sister?

A: I have learned that “sister” means so many more things than simply someone you are related to and the role of a sister does not have to be filled by a biological relation. “Sister” means mentor, confidant, teacher, student, listener, helper, and friend.

Q: Who were some of your female role models growing up? What made them such positive role models for you?

A: My main female role model growing up is my grandma. She is an amazing person. An immigrant from Ireland, she came to America by herself at 18. She has taught me what it means to be a strong, independent, and pragmatic woman, and I could not thank her enough for that. She is the strongest, most resilient woman I know. I look at her and am so proud and in awe of her spirit.

Q: What is something your Little Sister has taught you since you’ve been matched?

A: Nadege has taught me what it is like to be a kid again. Something I noticed near the end of my freshman year was that often times I would get so wrapped up in exams, papers, commitments, and meaningless drama that I forgot what it was like to splash around in the pool or play Monopoly for hours or just hang out and paint nails. Over the last year and a half with Nadege, I have learned once again that sometimes it is not about how stressful the week before was or decisions looming on the horizon. Sometimes the only thing that matters is the good company you are in and who owns Park Place.