Category Archives: Big Sister Association

Eastern Bank and Adrian Gonzalez Team Up for Mentoring

Big Sister is very excited to be a part of this year’s charitable partnership between Eastern Bank and all-star slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who have teamed up to support youth mentoring in Eastern Massachusetts. In addition to Big Sister, four other organizations will benefit from this year’s campaign: Old Colony Y, Family Service, Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, and Children’s Friend and Family Services of Salem. Eastern Bank and Adrian chose these five organizations because they believe that a good mentoring program can help children stay focused, stay in school, stay off drugs, and build self-confidence. Of course, Big Sister strongly agrees!

If you watched the Opening Day baseball game on NESN last Thursday, you may have seen a TV spot starring Adrian and promoting this partnership. If you missed it, you can still check it out here.

The next thing you’ll want to do is take a look at Eastern Bank’s Facebook page  and “like” them.  Eastern Bank’s Facebook page is a great community forum, and often provides opportunities for fans to share their thoughts on a range of topics and even promote the work of their favorite nonprofit (whether that is Big Sister, or another organization). Liking Eastern Bank’s Facebook page will also help keep you in the loop as the next phase of the campaign kicks off. Eastern Bank will be holding a summertime sweepstakes only on their Facebook page, and every entry received will generate money towards a fund that will benefit the five mentoring organizations (including us)!

Stay tuned for more details!

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’s BMW Raffle: Have your own Oprah Moment

We’ve all  heard about, or watched, the episode.

Oprah’s Car Giveaway: YouTube Remix | Original

On the set of the Oprah Winfrey Show,  guests open ribboned boxes hoping to find a key to a brand new car.  Squeals of surprise and joy fill the studio as, one by one, guests find out that they have all won.  Magnanimous and smiling, Oprah calls “You get a car! You get a car!” to each and every guest.

With our 23rd Annual BMW Raffle, you can have you own Oprah moment, courtesy of Big Sister and Herb Chambers BMW Boston.  Picture yourself in a brand new red BMW convertible or select the $38,000 cash prize instead!

2011 BMW Raffle: Click the car to purchase your ticket!

Raffle tickets are $100 each or 3 for $250. We’re only selling 1,750 so the odds of winning are amazing. The bonus:  your raffle ticket purchase helps support our mentoring programs for girls.

Could you be the winner? You’ll never know unless you enter.

Click here to purchase your BMW raffle ticket today.

The drawing is July 29, 2011 at 1pm at Faneuil Hall. Need not be present to win.

Which will you choose?

Special thanks to our raffle partner: 

Herb Chambers BMW Boston

Recruiting More Big Sisters: We Need Your Help!

Big Sister Laurel and  Little Sister Barbara want you to become A Big Sister.

Big Sister Laurel & Little Sister Barbara help recruit Big Sisters.

YOU can help the 279 girls currently waiting to be matched with a Big Sister!  As a Big Sister, you know firsthand that mentoring has a powerful, positive impact on a girl’s life. We need your help to bring this experience to more of Boston’s girls.

Did you know that people are more likely to volunteer with Big Sister Association if asked by someone they know? Please help us spread the word. One of your friends, co-workers, sisters, cousins, or neighbors may become a Big Sister to a girl on our wait list just because she hears your story. By using any (or all!) of the easy suggestions below, you can enable us to match girls in Boston with a wonderful new Big Sister!

  • Promote us on Facebook & Twitter.
    Tweet while hanging out with your Little SisterLike the Big Sister Association Facebook page. These are great ways to spread the word to one friend, which turns into two friends, which turns into four, etc.
  • Help us set up an information session at your job.
    Just make the connection! Introduce us to an office manager or staff in your employer’s human resources department and we’ll do the rest. Making that first connection is often the biggest challenge when recruiting potential Big Sisters.
  • Tell us about events where we can table. We’ll do the heavy lifting! Let us know of any community, organization, or neighborhood events where we can hand out materials about becoming a Big Sister.
  • Connect us to college alumni groups/sororities/women’s groups/professional groups. Help us connect to these already established groups. You may be surprised who always wanted to be a Big Sister, but just needed a little nudge.
  • Write a post for our blog. You don’t have to be Maya Angelou; just write about your experience. Hearing from you what it’s like to be a Big Sister can help potential volunteers overcome common misconceptions and concerns.
  • Host a house party. Summer is a great time to get together with friends and family! Why not turn it into something that gives back to the community by allowing a Big Sister representative to speak to the group while everyone enjoys food and drinks?
Email Sheena Collier at if you would like more information on any of these options.

Start Training: It’s Rodman Ride Season!

Join Team Big Sister

Do you love cycling and want to help Big Sister celebrate our 60th anniversary? Then join Team Big Sister in the 2011 Rodman Ride for Kids.

Every fall, Big Sister participates in the Rodman Ride for Kids, a 25-, 50-, and 100-mile non-competitive bike tour that raises funds for youth-serving agencies in Massachusetts.

We want to invite you to be a part of this year’s Team Big Sister as a rider, a “virtual rider”, or by making a donation in support of the team. This is a great event that brings together supporters, staff, Big Sisters, Little Sisters, and community partners in a fun team activity, all while raising funds for Big Sister!

To register to ride, please visit our TEAM PAGE.  Sign up and enjoy:

  • Team rides all summer
  • An official team jersey
  • An all day barbecue after the Ride
  • A team social event
  • A ride day gift bag
  • Chances to win prizes

and more…

Team Members are asked to raise $1,000.

Date: Saturday, September 24th

Start Location: Foxboro, MA

If you have questions or need help registering, contact our Big Sister Team Captain, Cassie Brown at

Rodman Ride 2007

Rodman Ride 2009

Big Sister Board Members Max Bardeen and Tim O'Brien

Roadman Ride high five

Big Sister’s 2011 CBM Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast

Little Sister Yanni and Big Sister Karen Lubov strike a pose.

Little Sister Yanni and Big Sister Karen Lubov strike a pose at this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast. View more photos from the event.

Big and Little Sisters who had been matched for as little as one month to as long as 11 years gathered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge to celebrate their relationship at Big Sister’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast April 16th 2011. The fun-filled breakfast featured an inspirational speech by one of Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40, Alicia Canady, and the percussive stylings of The Genki Spark, a Japanese Taiko drumming troupe.

Big Sister Chief Operating Officer Mia Roberts and Board Members Tim O’Brien and Max Bardeen presented Certificates of Appreciation to the 26 matches that have been together for longer than five years. A special congratulations goes out to Big Sister Julie Atwood Drake and Little Sister Naquana as well as Big Sister Ellen DePaul Fisher and Little Sister Thelma who have been together for over a decade.

Ms. Canady, the founder and Executive Director of the Young Black Women’s Society, spoke of her youthful struggles and the support, mentorship and empowerment she received from her shero, Jaye Smith.

The Genki Spark

The Japanese Taiko drumming troupe, The Genki Spark: Payal Sharma, Jennifer Moy, Christine Engle, Mayuko Yamamoto & Karen Young.

Next, America’s first and only all-Asian Taiko drumming troupe, The Genki Spark, brought their explosive sound and zestful spirit to the stage. Big and Little Sisters also got their chance to wield the taiko drumsticks on stage and off after the event.

Little Sister Iva Jonalys talks about her Big Sister Chealsea Jones.

Big Sister’s Helen Fullerton looks on as Little Sister Jonalys extols the virtues of her Big Sister Chelsea Jones. View more photos from the event.

The event closed with an open-mic session opened by former Little Sister Starleana Searcy where Little Sisters had a chance to speak about their Big Sisters and what they meant to them. There were many words of love and appreciation for the support and guidance they received from their mentors.

Denise Hajjar Spring Fashion Show Raises $9,000 to Support Big Sister

This past week I had the privilege of trading in my work flats for stilettos to walk the runway as a guest model for our first annual fashion show to benefit Greater Boston’s girls. The event was a smashing success, raising nearly $9,000 for Big Sister as Boston-based designer Denise Hajjar showcased her Spring and Summer line at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

The elegant Oval Room was filled with hundreds of new and familiar faces. Among the crowd notable names such as State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Allyce Najimy from the Foundation to be Named Later, Linda Holliday, and author Elisha Daniels were there to support of Boston’s girls. There was so much love in the room for our organization, our Matches, and our work.

Backstage was a hectic scene that Project Runway reruns did not prepare me for: long racks of beautiful dresses, tables full of accessories of every kind, shoes by local designer Kristina Kozak, as well as makeup and hair stations. I was joined by other guest models from the Big Sister Community: Board member Jane Deery and Big Sister Bernice Osborne.

We had fun chatting with the professional models about fashion show tips, practicing our runway walks, and telling them about Big Sister. They were all interested in our work and I saw a few of them talking to our Recruitment Team after the show. It was great to see the array of different age, race, and size of the models. It was clear that Denise Hajjar values diversity and her designs can be worn by anyone.

 The night was a great accomplishment for the entire Big Sister community. Thank you to everyone who attended this fun event, cheered for the nervous guest models, and offered your kind words after the show.  Because of all of you we raised nearly $9,000, made some new friends, and will now be holding this event annually. That means I have approximately 52 weeks to practice “smiling with my eyes” and my fierce walk for next year’s show!

 To check out more pictures, visit our FACEBOOK

Research shows: gender matters

Gender matters. Big Sister has always known the important role that gender plays in mentoring, and now we have the research to prove it. More than 50 practitioners and funders gathered at Bank of New York Mellon on Friday, March 26, to hear nationally known researchers, Dr. Jean Rhodes of UMASS Donahue Institute, and Dr. Renee Spencer of Boston University’s School of Social Work, share the findings of their respective studies on the role of gender in mentoring. The event, Getting Results: Why Gender Matters in Mentoring, was hosted by Bank of New York Mellon and Big Sister Association of Greater Boston in partnership with The Girls’ Coalition of Greater Boston, and included a community dialogue facilitated by Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith.

Click here to read Mass Mentoring Partnership’s blog entry about the event!

Read more about Rhodes’ and Spencer’s research here.

What Big Sister is looking forward to in 2010!

10. Appreciating our current and former Big Sisters on at a celebration on January 21 (hosted by our Alumnae Association!) in recognition of National Mentoring Month!

9. Going deeper into the communities we serve with programs like Neighborhood-Based Mentoring at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester.

8. Sharing our expertise on gender-specific mentoring with girl-serving organizations through our Intentional Mentoring partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

7. Talking about A Girl’s Life hosted by Rachel Simmons–the eye-opening documentary about issues girls are facing right here in our community, right now–with our volunteers and supporters.

6. Maintaining longer, stronger Big and Little Sister relationships through the support of our professional social work staff.

5. Staying connected with former Big and Little Sisters through our Alumnae Association, which is open to current Big Sisters too!

4. Continuing to increase the number of Big Sisters who are women of color with the help of our Diversity Council  who brought us from 26% volunteers of color to 28% in 2009!

3. Hosting exciting events for our giving community, such as Rise & Inspire, Urban Beach Party, Celebrity Chef Dinner, and Big in Boston.

2. Giving more than 2,700 girls throughout Greater Boston the attention of a caring, supportive woman mentor who will expand their horizons and let them know there is nothing they can’t do, become, or achieve.

1. Keeping you in the know on all things girls, mentoring, and the Big Sister community through the BigSisterBoston blog!

What are YOUR hopes and dreams for this year?

Big Sister Enters the Blogosphere!

Welcome to Big Sister’s blog, bigsisterboston!  We strive to create a community among all our supporters:  donors, volunteers, staff, board members, community partners, Little Sisters and their families, and advocates for girls and mentoring.  Without you we could not do the important work of putting caring, supportive woman mentors in the lives of Greater Boston’s girls.  Our blog will be another way for us to stay connected to you.  We’ll post fundraising events, issues affecting girls, advice for our volunteers, and any news relating to Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. 

We invite you to get involved as well!  Your voice matters and we would love to hear what you have to say.  We welcome you to leave comments on our posts.  Pass along our blog address or link to it from your own blog or website.  Write  your own blog entry on something relating to girls, mentoring, or Big Sister, that you think is important.  While we cannot guarantee that we will publish all entries that are sent to us, we are eager to hear from you!  Please send all entries to

And for now, please enjoy our blog as you continue to support our City’s girls!