Blog Archives

A Strong Female Role Model For Every Girl

Washington based writer Gabrielle Nomura recounts meeting her role model, journalist Jenni Hogan, and the importance of a good female role model for every girl…

Gabrielle Nomura

Her role model, Jenni Hogan, KIRO 7 TV anchor

“What hit me then was the importance of role models.

Every girl, whether she wants to be a journalist, a professional athlete or a full-time world traveler should have a woman role model they can emulate, see a bit of themselves in, and be inspired by.

All girls should get an experience like I did at least once in their lives, to be able to sit down at a table with their own version of Jenni Hogan.

It’s not always easy to find a role model, as our society’s way of choosing which women to pay attention to is often skewed. As Faizon Love put it, why is it that Kim Kardashian makes the news, while masses of women who are actually doing newsworthy things, female doctors, researchers, teachers, activists, scholars, business owners and mothers, go unnoticed?”

For more of Gabrielle’s piece on Strong Female Mentors: CLICK HERE

To your Little Sister, you are her role model. Thank you Big Sisters, for being that influential woman in a young girl’s life.

If you are (or know) a girl between 7-15 who would like a women mentor call us at 617-23-8060, email us at bigsister@bigsister.org or visit us on the web at www.bigsister.org

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Exploring Art Outside Boston: Match Activity at the Decordova

deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA

Guestblogger Big Sister Brenna Downing weighs in on her recent adventure out of the City for a match activity.

I’ve lived in Boston for almost four years, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t explored a lot of the area’s landmarks and museums.  So I was excited when I heard about last month’s match activity at the deCordova Museum in Lincoln.

My Little Sister, Amaia, and I will have been matched for 2 years in June.  Like most 10-year-olds, she’s creative and imaginative, so I thought the Rachel Perry Welty exhibit at the deCordova would fascinate her.  I was also excited to do something outside of the city, since the vast majority of our time (together and separate) is spent in Boston.

The exhibit focused on making art out of the things we’re surrounded with in everyday life, so the theme was interesting and accessible to even the littlest Little Sisters.  There were large photographs where the artist was covered in things like twist ties, Styrofoam take-out containers, and price stickers.  Amaia especially liked the row of iPhones that showed constantly updating Facebook posts from a day that Welty updated her status every minute for the entire day!  It was a perfect exhibit for us to go to together – it was engaging, interactive, and made you think, without being stuffy.  

Amaia loves meeting other Little Sisters, so we go to a lot of Big Sister’s planned match activities.  When the group sat down for an art project after the exhibit, she bonded with another Little Sister over a shared love of dogs and got into a pretty opinionated debate over which was better – bacon or mac and cheese?  Hmm, tough call.

Before we had even left, Amaia was already planning her collection of twist ties and our next visit to the deCordova.

For more information on the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA please visit: www.decordova.org

 For more information on how to volunteer visit us at www.bigsister.org or call 617.236.8060

Looking for a Good Read? Big Sister Recommends

Big Sister Recommends

Chances are, you’re still spending most of your free time inside. While you’re waiting for the weather to get warmer, not why head to the library or check out Amazon for these titles about the power of mentoring:

Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today’s Youth by Jean E. Rhodes.

From Booklist:

Rhodes, a psychology professor, examines the popularity of mentoring programs and their effectiveness in improving the prospects of disadvantaged youth. She particularly focuses on research involving the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, the best-known youth-mentoring organization, showing that at-risk youth who are mentored through structured programs are more likely to succeed.

The Person Who Changed My Life: Prominent People Recall Their Mentors by Matilda Raffa Cuomo, Editor with foreword by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Amazon Description:

At some point in the odyssey of our lives, most of us have been affected by caring adults who made a difference: their advice, their guidance, their example led us to encounter the world. The Person Who Changed My Life is a collection of essays in which individuals who have distinguished themselves in their fields write about the men and women who served as their mentors. Among the contributors are Walter Cronkite, Larry King, Dr. Arthur Caliandro, Elie Wiesel, Marian Wright Edelman, Julia Child, Gloria Estefan, and Dina Merrill.

Because You Believed in Me: Mentors and Protégés Who Shaped Our World by Marcia McMullen and Patricia Miller.

From the Publisher:

Because You Believed in Me uses stories of real people—Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Claude Monet and Eugene Boudin, Ulysses S.Grant and Abraham Lincoln—to demonstrate the powerful benefits of mentoring. The relationships of these and other historical pairs are explored throughout this book to illuminate the inherent value of mentoring. What if Eugene Boudin had not encouraged Monet to paint in the out of doors? Could anyone else have inspired him to abandon studio painting and venture into the beauty of landscapes? As with this case, mentors open worlds of possibilities for their proteges. Even brilliant people need heroes.

Or check out a couple new books from the New York Times bestseller list that are focused on women and girls:

Read them already? Comment below and tell us what you think! What other books would you like to suggest for a good read?

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Invest in Girls

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

The benefits are so obvious, you have to wonder why we haven’t paid attention. Less than 2¢ of every development dollar goes to girls — and that is a victory compared with a few years ago, when it was more like half a cent. Roughly 9 of 10 youth programs are aimed at boys. One reason for this is that when it comes to lifting up girls, we don’t know as much about how to do it. We have to start by listening to girls, which much of the world is not culturally disposed to do.—To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls by Nancy Gibbs, Time, Feb. 14, 2011

According to the article from which that quote was taken, fewer than 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half are married by the time they are 18; 1 in 7 girls across the developing world marry before they are 15 and get pregnant shortly thereafter. The leading cause of death for girls 15 to 19 worldwide is not accident or violence or disease; it is complications from pregnancy. Girls under 15 are up to five times more likely to die while having children than women in their 20s. Their babies are more likely to die as well.

At Big Sister, we know that investing in girls locally is just as crucial as investing in them globally. Consider this: In 2008, 595 children were born to teenage mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 in Massachusetts, according to a study by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, as reported by the Mass Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. Big Sister has been “lifting up” girls since 1951. We encourage girls to live up to their full potential by providing them with strong female mentors. These are women who most often are simply there to listen; the point at which Gibbs urges us to begin.

There is no doubt that whether it is in Malawi or right here in Boston, we need to increase the investment made in girls. That investment is one of time, of money, and of open ears, hearts, and minds when it comes to addressing the specific needs of girls. We can also encourage girls to invest in each other. That is the mission of Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that Gibbs references in her article. If you are a Big Sister, we encourage you to visit http://www.girlup.org/with your Little Sister. Perhaps it will spark a conversation about girls supporting girls locally and globally…and get others to start talking about what it really means to invest in girls.

To read Time Magazine’s number one most emailed article, “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls” click here.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

– Margaret Mead

For more information on how to become a Big Sister, apply on our website at http://www.bigsister.org or call 617.236.8060.

Giving thanks for the “Little” moments-by guest blogger Big Sister Jen Maitland

Big Sister Jen Maitland is 26 and lives in Brighton. She has been matched with her Little Sister, Shelkilya, age 11, since July 2007.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

At the start of the holiday season everyone always asks what people are thankful for; this holiday season I wanted to share with you what I am the most thankful for. Two and a half years ago I had an interview with one of the social workers at Big Sister, I filled out some forms about what my interests are, things I like and don’t like. A couple weeks later I was meeting my Little Sister for the first time. During our first match meeting I had no idea about the journey I was about to embark on and how life-changing it would be.

Over the past two and a half years, my Little Sister and I have grown to be what I deem a great Big Sister/Little Sister combo. When I first signed up to be a Big Sister I was doing it to volunteer and help out a young girl in need. What I have gained from it is far beyond what I could have imagined. I have learned more about life from an 11 year old girl than I did in my entire college career. While I have no idea the impact I am having on her and probably never will, I know it is there. Obviously she never comes out and directly says “Jen, thanks for being an important and stable part of my life,” as many 11 year olds and even full grown adults don’t have the ability to say that. However, it’s the little things she does that make me realize the impact I am having. The over the shoulder bag that I gave her last year that she uses every day despite the fact it is completely falling apart, the fact that she always grabs my extra sunglasses when we are in my car and I have mine on, the friendship necklace I made for her that she didn’t take off for months, and the fact that when we go to Friendly’s we both always get the peanut butter cup Friends made with chocolate ice cream.

It’s these things that make each and every time we go out so special and meaningful to me. My Little Sister will probably never realize how important she is to me and how much I appreciate the time we have spent together, just as I will never know what I mean to her. But it’s for these moments that this holiday season the thing I am the most grateful for is my Little Sister and the Big Sister Association.