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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.

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Boston Neighborhood Highlights: Dorchester

Camels at the Franklin Park Zoo. Photo by Chris Devers

Camels at the Franklin Park Zoo. Photo by Chris Devers.

What do you know about Dorchester? Did you know that the first public elementary school in the country was started there in 1639? Or that in 1915 it opened the first supermarket in the world? Not only does Dorchester have a rich history, it has a rich supply of things to do – especially for match activities. See below for some of the different sights Dorchester has to offer:

Franklin Park Zoo

1 Franklin Park Rd
Boston, MA 02121

10am-6pm
Adults – 16.00
Children – 10.00

The 72-acre Franklin Park Zoo is located in Boston’s historic Franklin Park. Zookeeper, a new family comedy which hits theaters today, was filmed on location at the Zoo.  Check out the Gorilla Family exhibit where you can meet the Zoo’s seven gorillas. You can also see an African lion in the Kalahari Kingdom, tigers in Tiger Tales, Masai giraffe and Grevy’s zebra on the Giraffe Savannah, as well as the many other incredible animals that call the Zoo home. From 10:00 a.m. – noon on the first Saturday of every month, all guests will be charged the children’s admission price. www.zoonewengland.org


JFK Library

Columbia Point
Boston, MA 02125

9am-5pm
Adults – 12.00
Teens – 10.00
Children under 12 – Free

The JFK Library

The JFK Library was designed by renowned architect, I.M. Pei. Photo by Bill Ilott.

Tour the museum dedicated to the memory of the 35th president who, through his work in politics, sought to make the world a better place. At the JFK Library, you will find exhibits on the life, leadership, and legacy of John F. Kennedy, the First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and his family.  One of the intriguing exhibits includes gifts given to President Kennedy by world leaders and some of the more eclectic gifts given  by admirers. If you can make the trip on Friday, August 12, museum admission is free thanks to Highland Street’s Free Fun Fridays! www.jfklibrary.org


Savin Hill Park

Grampian Way
Boston, MA 02125

Savin Hill Park is a small, but lovely neighborhood park featuring a tennis court and basketball court as well as different hiking trails.  From the top of the hill, you will encounter many visitors with their dogs taking in the panoramic view of Dorchester, Quincy and Boston Harbor. There are also plenty of grassy areas to bring a blanket and have a picnic. www.cityofboston.gov/parks


Tenean Beach

Tenean St
Boston, MA 02124

Tenean Beach is great if you want to avoid the crowds that swarm Boston’s beaches in the summer. It has a beautiful view of the Boston skyline and plenty of activities for kids including a new playground, boardwalk and promenade. It is definitely one of Boston’s best kept secrets! www.cityofboston.gov/parks


Strand Theatre

543 Columbia Rd
Dorchester, MA 02125

Strand Theatre opened its doors in 1918 to a diverse group of artists. Comedians, singers, plate-spinners, ventriloquists, dancers, musicians, acrobats, and animal trainers have all performed on its stage. Now the Strand serves as a cultural and educational resource to artists and audiences of all ages and types. Most importantly, it works to develop and implement youth arts education programs. Recent performers on the Strand stage have included the Boston Ballet, Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis of American Idol, the Boston Children’s Choir and the annual Poetry Slam. To find coming events: http://strandboston.com/calendar


Commonwealth Museum

220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125

9am-5pm
Free

This newly established museum offers many interactive exhibits where you can view rare original documents and artifacts that tell the story of Massachusetts’ founding. You can enter a replica of the Arbella, the ship that transported the Pilgrims from England in 1630. Also on display are the thirteen original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, the Massachusetts Constitution and the 1629 and 1691 charters. This museum is free to the public. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/sec/mus/museum/index.htm

Big Sister Works to Recruit More Volunteers in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan

Early this month, there were 103 girls in Dorchester waiting to be matched with a Big Sister. View more photos from the parade.

On Sunday June 5, Big Sister Staff, members of the Diversity Council and Alumnae Board, and Big and Little Sisters marched in the Dorchester Day Parade to raise awareness of our need for more volunteers from that community.

One of the challenges we face at Big Sister is engaging more women as volunteers from the neighborhoods where we serve the most girls: Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.  As you can see in the infographic below, there is a large disparity in the number of Big Sisters (purple circles) living in those neighborhoods as compared to Little Sisters (green circles).

In the three weeks since the Dorchester Day Parade, Big Sister has reduced the number of girls in Dorchester waiting to be matched with a Big Sister from 103 to 60.

Big and Little Sister by neighborhood (2010)

Big and Little Sisters by Boston neighborhood (2010 data). In 2010, 70% of all Little Sisters and 47% of all Big Sisters lived in the neighborhoods of Boston. There is a large disparity between the number of Little Sisters living in Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and East Boston as compared to the number of Big Sisters also residing in those communities. Click image to view a larger version.

This summer we are launching our Each One Reach One campaign, where we ask current Big Sisters in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan to help us recruit women they know who would make great Big Sisters.  Big Sisters know first hand that mentoring has a powerful, positive impact on a girl’s life so we’re asking them to to reach out to at least three women that they know and share their story. We hope that these stories will convince their friends, family members or colleagues to make their own commitment to becoming a Big Sister.

If you know a woman who would make a great Big Sister, ask her to visit http://www.bigsister.org to find out more information and to  fill out an application or have her contact Sheena Collier at scollier@bigsister.org.

Little Sister Jada & Big Sister Heather in the Dot Day Parade. SISTERS = Smart, Inspiring, Sincere, Trustworthy, Energetic, Respectful and Supportive.