What difference does mentoring make? Can it really change a life? You might well wonder.
Several months ago we received a letter from a former Little Sister who had written to tell us about her experience. Here, in her own words, is Jennifer’s account of the difference that her relationship with her Big Sister made for her. We appreciate her willingness to share her story. It is powerful. —BBBS
Hello. I don’t know how to start this message, but here goes. I used to be a Little Sister, back in 2002 or so. My Big Sister’s name was Kelly Miller.
As a child, my life was hard. It changed immensely after my only parent passed away tragically. In our household, love was rarely to never shown. I did not know how it felt to be cared about, and Kelly showed me that much-needed affection. She took such good care of me and I miss her dearly.
I can still recall exactly how I felt when I saw her. My heart would beat with excitement as I waited for her on my doorstep. I always looked forward to her arrival. I would run out and jump happily into her small Toyota, anxious to find out what we had in store for that day. She never failed to disappoint.
I liked to draw a lot as a kid and she bought me a sketch book and tools so that I could draw to my heart’s content. I wanted to learn to drive a standard car, so she began showing me the basics. I loved swimming, so she constantly took me swimming. She worked at Dell and I liked computers, so she took the time to show me how to work with one. One time, she took me to the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. I had never been there before, and it was so awesome! I had no idea there were places where you could eat and watch movies at the same time! I will never forget that day. She bought me a chocolate mousse cake and I devoured it as we got ready to watch the movie.
My sisters envied me so much and I loved it! Sometimes Kelly even let me bring a sister or two along on our outings! I never wanted to leave her side.
Kelly knew all my idiosyncrasies and encouraged me to be true to myself at all times. I had never had a relationship with an adult the way I had one with her.
Some of my older family members criticized Kelly because I spent so much time with her. They said it was weird for a stranger to be so nice to a child. I thought it was horrible for them to talk about her, when all she knew was to be kind. But what they didn’t know is that this beautiful woman was reaching out to a very lost child, pulling me out of a dark place that I just couldn’t shake off. Before Kelly came into my life, I would lock myself in closets for hours at a time, and I was secretly starving and hurting myself. I felt so alone and depressed.
I am grateful for Kelly’s role in my life, and even though I haven’t seen her in a long time, I appreciate her greatly. She showed me love when I needed it the most. She deserves a lot of credit for the person that I have become today. If it weren’t for her, I know that I would have ended up in an environment that I should not have been in.
I am in school now, working toward my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I will transfer to UT soon, and I also have a daughter of my own. Thanks to my amazing Big Sister Kelly Miller, I knew from early on how important my education would be.
I want to thank you for allowing me and my sisters to be part of this amazing program. Kelly was a wonderful person and a positive role model. I have so much to thank her for. My only hope is that you can help me find her. I will never forget the genuine kindness she showed me.
She provided hope to a little girl who had none.
Photo: Jennifer Reyes with her daughter, Rosalee.