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Spotlight: Big Sister of the Year, Lisa Ewing

BFAD Lisa Ewing LS Jessica Gallo

Lisa Ewing was honored as Big Sister of the Year in our Big For a Day program. Big For a Day (BFAD) is a program where women are matched with a girl on our wait list for a one-time Big Sister activity such as bowling, a dance class, a martial arts workshop, or a trip to the Aquarium. Big For a Day activities occur once a month on a Saturday. You can volunteer as little as twice a year or as often as once a month.

Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker

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

I got involved in a program for mentoring middle school students for their science projects, in preparation for the local and state science fairs.  I enjoyed the program and began thinking I could do more.  I was working full time and going to school at night, so I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to be involved.  Then l learned about the Big For a Day program, and it seemed like a great fit.

How do you approach making connections with the new Little Sisters you get paired with at each event?

There’s often a lot of activities at the events, so if there are multiple games or arts and crafts projects, I just ask my Little Sister where they want to start.  If they’re still holding back a bit, I’ll  suggest we start at a particular activity and go from there.  I’m usually pretty excited to be doing any activity, and they usually pick up on my excitement.

What’s a favorite activity you’ve done with Big Sister and what makes it so memorable?

That’s hard to say – Big Sister always has such fun events.  The Halloween parties are a lot of fun – everyone dresses up in great costumes!  Especially the home-made theme costumes where matches create something together.  The Winter Wonderland party is a lot of fun – being in Faneuil Hall with the decorations and getting to decorate cookies. The sporting events at colleges are also a lot of fun.  As I said – it’s so hard to pick just one!

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself or about the world since becoming a part of Big For a Day?

I now understand that even if you don’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time with a girl, you can still make a difference in her life.

What would you say to women who are on the fence about applying to Big For a Day—any words of encouragement or advice?

I would say find a way to become involved.  Just call the office or search the website for opportunities.  It is a great experience, and you get back so much in return.  It means so much to the girls.  Just think back to when you were young. If you were lucky, you had a big sister or someone you could talk to about whatever was on your mind.  If not, wouldn’t you have liked to have that someone?  You can be that someone for a young girl.

If you’re interested in the Big For a Day program, check out the Big Sister website.

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Let’s Move: Big Sister & Alpha Kappa Alpha help girls on our wait list “Spring into Wellness”

A BFAD volunteer and her Little Sister

A Big for a Day volunteer and her Little Sister show off the tote bag they designed during the “Spring into Wellness” event held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury last month.

The First Lady is doing it;  Beyonce is doing it and by hosting a “Spring into Wellness” themed Big for a Day(BFAD) event last month,  Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority and Big Sister Association are doing it to. We are helping girls make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices.

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, which aims to reduce childhood obesity, AKA invited 30 girls on our wait list and 30 BFAD volunteers to the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury for an afternoon filled with zumba, yoga, arts and crafts, and a healthy snacks discussion.

Esther Slack, President of the Rho Epsilon Omega Chapter of AKA said, “Hosting BFAD is an extremely rewarding experience for the three Greater Boston area chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  Since 1908, part of our sorority’s mission is to help alleviate problems concerning girls and women, so this partnership was a perfect fit.  For the second year in a row, we have heard the “Littles” say “We have to go already?!”; hearing this lets us know we are helping Big Sister achieve their goal.”
Little Sister Amber shows off her newly designed bag.

A Little Sister shows off her newly designed gym bag while drinking a nice, healthy smoothie! 

Big Sister Association’s BFAD program pairs women with Little Sisters on our wait list. This program is a wonderful way for our Little Sisters to enjoy fun activities while waiting to be matched and for women to get involved if they are unable to commit to a traditional match. Each month, Big Sister partners with a different company or service organization to sponsor a BFAD event. BFAD activities have included trips to a museum, dance workshops, and cooking classes! BFAD volunteers are women who have gone through Big Sister’s screening process and/or are in the process of becoming a Community-Based Big Sister.

Upcoming Big for a Day Events

We have several exciting BFAD activities coming up this summer, and would love for you to participate!

  • July 16 – Big Sister Summer Picnic. Join other matches for a fun-filled day including swimming, frisbee, sandcastle-building, crafts, and much more!
  • July 31 – Mini Golf. Test your mini golf skills with the Boston Chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association!
  • August 13 – Explore the JFK Library. Brush up on your history and politics while taking in a beautiful view of Boston and the water!

Want to sign up? Have questions? Contact Jen Gentile.

**Please note: if you are currently involved in a Community-Based match, you are not eligible to participate in Big For a Day.

Stay Connected Through Big Sister’s Alumnae Association!

Guest blogger Rachel Russell, Alumnae Association Board Member, talks about her experience with Big Sister Association and how to remain involved after being a Big or Little Sister. 

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston
If you have found yourself out of touch with Big Sister, there are so many ways to get back involved.  There are plenty of girls looking to be matched in both School and Community Based Mentoring.  Big for a Day always needs volunteers one Saturday per month, and we can always use YOUR help to recruit new Big Sisters.  No matter what situation you find yourself in, we hope that you will stop by our Alumnae events to say hello!  We love getting the opportunity to speak with such inspiring women.  Whether you’re a current Big, a former Big or a Little you’ll always have a place at Big Sister.
Five years ago I found myself moving to Boston, ready to begin a new chapter in my life, post college.  As a New Hampshire native, the thought of living in a city was new and exciting, but at the same time a little daunting.  I was eager to meet new people, begin my career and become active in my community. Although I was certain of my career goals, I wasn’t too sure how I wanted to get involved in my neighborhood.  After remembering a friend’s experience back in college being a Big Sister, I decided it would be a place to start.  I was matched with my little sister for three years before closing our match two years ago.  It was a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful I did it. 
I was probably out of touch with the Big Sister Association for a year when I got an email about an opportunity to join the Big Sister Alumnae Association Board.  I jumped at the chance to get reconnected with an organization I truly believed could make a difference in girls lives.  Serving as an Alumnae Board member allows me to participate in a new capacity.  As we begin our first year as a board, we have hopes to eventually hold quarterly events.  Our goal is to hold an annual appreciation event in January, a networking evening, a homecoming gathering in September and perhaps host a match or Big for a Day activity. We are all very excited to recruit Alums to assist us with these lofty goals!
Yours truly,

 Rachel Russell

Alumnae Association Board Member

To learn more about becoming involved with the Big Sister Alumnae Association contact Brenna Downing at bdowning@bigsister.org or click here to join.

Stay connected through the Alumnae Association!

Boston’s College Students: A Resource to Organizations

One of Boston’s biggest assets is its variety of higher education opportunities, which attract thousands of students from all over the world. There are 52 institutions of higher education here, with the enrollment ranging from 100 students to more than 30,000. This surplus of smart, talented, ambitious young people is not only beneficial in making Boston a hub of innovation, it is also a significant resource to organizations like Big Sister Association. 

On February 1, Linda Matchan wrote an article for the Boston Globe entitled “Volunteering Spirit Catches Fire” (read here). The article is an account of the rise in volunteerism among Millennials (people under 30) in the Boston area. According to the Globe article:

“Where their boomer parents may have been inclined to put their idealism and energy into protest and rebellion, today’s young men and women are civic-minded, less determined to change the social order, and more inclined to make the world a better place…” 

Among our Big Sister volunteers, women under 25 account for approximately 35%. That number has stayed fairly constant over the past few years, and is proportionately in line with the population of the City, which is said to rise 1/3 during the school months.

These students clearly have an intense desire to volunteer, but may need opportunities that require flexibility around class schedules and school vacations. Many college women in our area take advantage of Big Sister’s more flexible volunteer opportunities, which fit with their lifestyle and allow them to have a big impact on a girl.

Our School-Based Mentoring program matches a Big Sister in a one-to-one mentoring relationship with a Little Sister at the girl’s elementary school. This is a great opportunity for college students (and even corporate women working in the city) to spend time with a girl right in her own backyard during her lunch break.  These Big and Little Sisters meet during the Little Sister’s lunch time throughout the academic year, and are encouraged to keep in touch via letters or e-mails over the summer months. For more information on our School-Based Mentoring, or to apply, visit http://www.bigsister.org/

We also offer a monthly volunteer opportunity that will fit even the busiest student’s schedule.  Big for a Day (BFAD) allows girls on our waiting list (more than 300!) to participate in Big Sister-sponsored events interact with women mentors while they wait to be match with their own Big Sister. Activities range from dance and yoga classes, to ice skating, crafting, or museum visits. To volunteer as a Big for a Day women must be at least 20 years old and complete a one-hour screening process. The BFAD events are one Saturday each month, take place during the day, and usually last for 2-4 hours. If you are interested in volunteering or hosting a BFAD please contact Jennifer at jgentile@bigsister.com. We are thrilled to have so many wonderful Bigs and the prospect for even more talented mentors for our Little Sisters!

“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world.  How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution…how we can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness” – Anne Frank