As a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for many years, I had the pleasure of becoming a friend to my Little Brother as we explored and experienced different activities – from a simple breakfast at IHOP to an evening on the town (Off-Broadway magic show and dinner, served with cloth napkins.)
We enjoyed many outings that were a new experience for either him or me. The objective was to try something new, expand our knowledge of New York City and have fun, even when we didn’t like the activity. I’ve always had a desire to influence young people to safely explore beyond their immediate community and open their minds to the different things that make life interesting. I believe exposure to various types of people and events helps kids (especially in underserved communities) know that there’s hope and possibility for a lifestyle other than what they might be accustomed to.
Nationwide more than 30,000 “Littles” are waiting to be matched with a “Big” Sister or Brother.
My Little Brother developed into a fine and respectful young man. He had a good support system at home, and I’d like to think that his experiences with me, and our conversations during each outing, helped influence his decision to be a better student and attend a local college. After each new experience, he looked forward to telling his family about it. He encouraged them to try a few new things, too.
Older workers have a wealth of experience and the time to enlighten, encourage, and empower young people. As an older person, I have the patience to listen, coach and share personal and professional successes/pitfalls that could be helpful to younger people. I’ve learned not to judge and to appreciate differences in people and their perspectives.
When I am a full-time retiree, I plan to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters or another organization that strives to empower disenfranchised children in local communities and give them hope for a better future.