We Are Family

By Jessica Roe Harris, former Big Sister

Jessica and Brooke

Jessica and Brooke

Brooke came into my life in early 2005 as my Little Sister through BBBS, and over the past nine years we have become so much more than that—we truly are like family. Although initially she was pretty shy, it was not long before she opened up. It was clear early on that we were “two peas in a pod” and were developing a relationship that was pretty special. Whether it was going hiking, taking road trips, mini golf, or just going to Maudie’s or Amy’s Ice Cream (our faves), we always had a great time. And there were A LOT of belly laughs. We were goofy, kindred spirits.

I recall being impressed with how at such a young age Brooke had taken the initiative to involve herself in several community and school programs that exposed her to a variety of experiences in the academics, arts, and community service. She was so hungry to learn about life and everything it had to offer. Even when it came to trying new foods or flavors, she was always up for an adventure and would pick something new off of the menu that she hadn’t tried before. This particularly impressed me, because I always had my standard “go-to” dishes or ice cream flavors. She even encouraged me to try new things!

Brooke's high school graduation, 2009.

Brooke’s high school graduation, 2009.

To say that things have not come easy for Brooke is a huge understatement. She has encountered a series of extraordinarily difficult circumstances in her life. What makes her story more remarkable and inspiring, however, is how she has chosen to avoid the dark path that so many with similar stories often travel down. Brooke has not only persevered—she has transcended those circumstances and continues excel and inspire others despite adversity. What’s more, she has done this with a positive outlook and a zest for life that is contagious.

Jessica, Amelia (Jessica's daughter) and Brooke

Jessica, Amelia (Jessica’s daughter) and Brooke

Now Brooke has grown into an amazing young woman, full of poise and potential. Like family, we have been there for each other’s big life moments. I had the privilege of attending award ceremonies, football games (she won Homecoming Queen!), fashion shows, and high school and college graduations. She came to my wedding and has become a “Big Sister” to my daughter Amelia. Now it is my turn to attend Brooke’s wedding next summer! I am so excited and honored to witness all of the amazing things that life has in store for her.

Words simply cannot express how I feel about Brooke. She has taught me so much about transcending obstacles, living with courage and gratitude, getting the most out of life, and more importantly, going for your dreams despite the hand that you are sometimes dealt. I will be forever grateful to BBBS for bringing such a special person into my life.

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