Shametra’s laugh is warm and genuine, and complemented by smiling eyes. She’s a strong woman with a kind heart – the mark of someone who has chosen a positive life path, perhaps in spite of early challenges. Shametra is also a former Little Sister who was matched almost 30 years ago, and she still stays in touch with her Big Sister.
“My Big Sister was such an inspiration in my life and such a great mentor. I learned a lot from her. Even [now], I’m still in touch with her. It’s as if there’s no separation between us,” Shametra says.
Looking back, her Big Sister Cynthia was a source of strength. When Shametra was just 10 years old, her mother passed away and she was reeling from the loss. Then, she met Cynthia.
“We went fishing, made popcorn balls, we would go out to eat and she attended my volleyball games and track meets… Cynthia was there for me, she was never too busy and whenever I would play sports from junior high to even high school — I could remember looking up in the stands and seeing her face,” she recalls.
Cynthia was always there for her, and even helped her through the loss of another adult in her life.
“I had a step father growing up. He was murdered when I was 16 years old… Cynthia helped me to understand that for anything negative that I may have experienced, there was always light at the end of the tunnel. Not so much so of saying it, but showing that life was to be enjoyed,” she says.
The Sisters made it through the hard times, and of course, had fun times, too. Shametra laughs as she recalls fun outings like going to Bowl for Kids, or when she received her college scholarship from BBBS (she still has the original certificate from 1989!). It’s clear that the memories they shared together are still so important and meaningful.
Today, Shametra works for the State of Texas, writes for Ujima magazine, is finishing her Social Work degree and has already published a book, Chronicles of A Mended Heart. She also finds time to give back by volunteering with several organizations. She’s a victim services volunteer with the Travis County Sheriff’s Department, has been volunteering with the HEB Feast of Sharing for the last seven years, and organizes The East Austin Community Fall Festival.
“I’m involved in my community because ever since I can remember, nothing happened with me just saying I wanted change,” she says. “If you set your mind to applying positive change in your community, that’s exactly what you will get from it. Sometimes you have to lead by example.”
So what does the future hold for Shametra? She’d like to open her own business, continue writing, and of course: “be a Big Sister.”