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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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Fun things to do with your Little Sister (April Edition)

Belle Isle Marsh Reservation

Birding Belle Isle

East Boston, MA       

Saturday, April 14, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Bring your Little Sister to Belle Isle Marsh. This is a hot spot for bird sightings! Join a DCR Ranger and look for spring migrants in and around Belle Isle, and also enjoy a leisurely hike. Please bring binoculars. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters of all ages. Meet at Belle Isle Marsh main parking area, off Bennington St, East Boston, MA. For more information about this event please visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/events.htm.  


Terrific Tree Treasure Hunt

Saugus, MA

Friday, April 20, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 Visit Breakheart Reservation for a fun treasure hunt with your Little Sister during her school vacation week! You will learn about trees and Asian Long Horned beetles while searching for hidden treasure! Drop in anytime during the allotted time periods for the 45 minute hunt. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters ages 8-14. Meet at Christopher P. Dunne Vistor Center, Breakheart Reservation, 177 Forest St, Saugus, MA. For more information about this event please visit http://www.mass.gov/dcr/events.htm.


Teen Matches Give Back

Dorchester, MA      

Saturday, April 21, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 

Big Sister Association is partnering with Boston Cares to help clean Dorchester park on Global Youth Service Day! We are inviting 10 teen matches to participate in this community service match activity. Gardening tools will be provided. Please wear long sleeves, full length pants and gloves. This event is free and is for Little Sisters ages 14 plus. For more information or to RSVP for this event please contact Jennifer Gentile at jgentile@bigsister.org or 617-236-8366. Space is limited to this event so please confirm with your Little Sister before signing up for this event.

Earth Day Recycling

175 N Harvard St.

Allston, MA  

Saturday, April 21, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  

Tour the Harvard Recycling and Surplus Center. Here used computers get refurbished, clothing is bagged, books are boxed, and items of all kinds are stored for donations to charities. Join Rob Gogan, Manager of Harvard Recycling Services, to make and take home your own recycled paper. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters ages 8-14. Space is limited, and advanced reservations are required. Call 617-495-3216 for reservations and more information or visit http://peabody.harvard.edu/family


Science of Sports

Madison Park High School

Roxbury, MA

Sunday, April 22, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Come learn about the science of sports! Dive into workshops, demonstrations, and activities with athletes, trainers, video game makers, sports medicine doctors, architects, and scientists! Learn how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen and more! This event is free and open to the public and is for Little sisters of all ages. For more information about this event please visit http://cambridgesciencefestival.org/Home.aspx.

Inspiring Minds: Meet Women in Science

Museum of Science

Boston, MA

Sunday, April 28, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

What are the opportunities and obstacles for women in science? Hear from inspiring women who are taking on challenges in science and technology. Meet these extraordinary scientists and entrepreneurs and learn how you can start your own career in a scientific field. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters ages 14 plus. This event is located at the Museum of Science Blue Wing Level 1. For more information about this event please visit http://cambridgesciencefestival.org/Home.aspx.


Arnold Arboretum Drop-In Activities

125 Arborway

Boston, MA

Sunday, April 29, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Drop-in with your Little Sister for some fun activities at the Arnold Arboretum! Stop by anytime during 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. for activities that may include scavenger hunts, science investigations, craft activities, stories, short guided walks and more. This event is free and open to the public and is for Little Sisters ages 7-10. This event is located under a tent outside of the Hunnewell Building or inside if weather is bad. For more information about this event please call 617-384-5209.

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder on Why She Chose to Become a Mentor

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder

Big Sister Lindsay Snyder

Mass Mentoring Partnership recently published a great guest post by Big Sister Lindsay  Snyder, Director of External Relations & Development at the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), on why she become a mentor:

A few months ago, while eating lunch at a T.G.I. Friday’s with Destyne, my Little from the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston program, she asked me why I chose to become a mentor. We were about to dig into the “Brownie Obsession,” this ridiculously delicious, dense sundae, when I said, “Well, because I was so fortunate to have so many mentors in my life, I wanted to be on the other side and give back…plus, you’re fun to be around and I’ve learned a lot from YOU.”

When I decided to become a mentor, I originally thought about it in terms of “paying it forward.” I have been blessed with several strong female mentors in my life, including my grandmother, mother and three women I used to work with at the Crittenton Women’s Union. I learned acceptance and forgiveness from my grandmother, strength and perseverance from my mother, and how to be a dedicated, passionate advocate for nonprofits from my former colleagues.

Now that I’ve been a mentor for two years, I think about the things – little and big – that I’ve learned from my Little – most of all, she keeps me in check. You need that when life gets hectic.

Read the rest of the post on Mass Mentoring Partnership’s blog.

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.

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.

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 scollier@bigsister.org if you would like more information on any of these options.

It’s National Volunteer Week!

Little Sister Roseanne & Big Sister Joy Falk showing off their creativity at the 2010 Halloween Party.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we would like to thank our Big Sisters who collectively volunteered over 170,000 hours to mentor 2567 girls last year!

City Councilor Ayanna Pressley & her Little Sister Arianna

Little Sister Ashley & Big Sister Kerri Norris at Mentoring Night at Fenway Park 2010

Little Sister Victoria & Big Sister Jessica Reardon at the 2010 Walk for Hunger

See more pictures of our Big Sisters and Little Sisters on Facebook.

To learn more about becoming a Big Sister contact us at bigsister@bigsister.org ,  call us at 617-236-8060 or visit our website.

Big Sister Recruitment Calendar: Week of April 11th, 2011

Recruitment Table

Monday, April 11th from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.

Fitcorp in the Prudential Center

Roxbury Community College Job, Internship and Volunteer Fair

Wednesday, April 13th from 12 p.m. -3 p.m.

RCC, Student Center, Building 4-cafeteria

United Way Lunch-n-Learn

Thursday, April 14th from 12 p.m. -1 p.m.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Volunteer Expo at The Prudential Center

Thursday, April 14th from 5:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.

Prudential Center

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

Big Sister Recruiting Calendar: Week of February 14th, 2011

Valentine’s Day

All day!

Follow the advice of advice columnist, Dear Abby:

Be a sweetheart and clean out your closets. Take any items you no longer wear (or can’t fit into) and donate them so someone else can enjoy them.**  Call your friends and say ‘I love you.’ Bring flowers to someone in a nursing home. Offer to run an errand for someone who doesn’t drive.

Donate blood; pay someone a compliment; listen to your teenager; pray for your friends; or invite a lonely acquaintance — male or female — to join you for lunch. Obey the traffic laws. Do something nice for someone anonymously. And, before the day is over, resolve to be a ‘sweetheart’ more often than just today.

** Big Brother Big Sister Foundation collects donations of gently used clothing and household items, sells them to thrift stores, and makes a profit which is then returned to local BBBS agencies. For more information or to schedule a pickup visit: www.bbbsfoundation.org

Recruitment session at Tremont Credit Union in Dorchester for Holland Elementary School
Tuesday, February 15th from 10-11 a.m.
180 Mt Vernon St.
Dorchester, MA (inside Boston Teacher’s Union)

Eastern Nazarene College
Wednesday, February 16th from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wellesley Women in Science Job & Internship Fair
Wednesday, February 16th from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Tishman Commons, Lulu Wang Campus Center

Recruitment table at Huntington Ave YMCA
Wednesday, February 16th from 3-7 p.m.

Grove Hall Library
Wednesday, February 16th from 3-5 p.m.

Big Sister Association 60 Year Celebration!
Keynote speaker, Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts!
Thursday, February 17th from 6-8 p.m.
Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
100 West 2nd Street
Celebrating 60 Invite