Valerie & Dari’yonna
Matched November 2011
Match Support Specialist: Stephanie Wright
“Dari’yonna has one of the sweetest and caring spirits. Despite all that she has been through in her young life, Dari’yonna maintains a pure and childlike spirit. She is outgoing, caring, and has a heart for helping others.” – Proud Big Sister Valerie
Seven years ago, Valerie, a recent college graduate, was looking for ways to get involved in the community and to give back. She heard someone share about their own Big Brothers Big Sisters match at one of her company’s events and inspired by the story, Valerie took the first step to become a mentor.
Around the same time, Dari’yonna’s mother, Yolanda, heard about the mentoring program through friends. With Dari’yonna’s father incarcerated and the two living in a neighborhood with few opportunities and poor schools, Yolanda realized her daughter needed an additional positive, consistent adult role model in her life.
Yolanda placed her faith in the staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters to help find her solution and decided to enroll Dari’yonna. After a thorough vetting and interview process, Dari’yonna was matched with her new Big Sister, Valerie.
For the past seven years, Dari’yonna and Valerie have had countless adventures and experiences together. The sisters love to incorporate arts and crafts into their activities, spent time at playgrounds, explore free family-friendly events around town together, go for ice cream at Tutti Fruitti, see movies together, and work on school projects and homework. Valerie adds imagination and creativity to enhance their match outings. One time, Dari’yonna had a school project on Michael Jackson, and she wasn’t having fun doing a report. To make it fun and engage her, Valerie played her favorite Michael Jackson song and choreographed a dance in the parking lot.
Big Sister Valerie describes the relationship as moving from an act of charity to a real friendship, incorporating one another into one each other’s lives and families. As Valerie has gone through important life stages, her Little Sister Dari’yonna has been there for her as well, helping to plan parts of her wedding and stand alongside next to her as a bridesmaid in Valerie’s wedding. Their friendship has been life-changing for the both of them with each receiving love, learning about oneself, and gaining perspective.