Big Sister Highlight: Louise Gray

Louise Gray loves spending time with Cloe, her 10-year-old Little Sister. Prior to becoming a Big, Louise worked for the local school district for over 30 years and has always enjoyed being around kids. Being in the school district, Louise often saw how Bigs would come and spend time with their Littles at school. Louise commented, “I saw that BBBS was a program that made a difference in kids’ lives and got to witness the longevity of the match between a Big and Little lasting over several years. That relationship was a constant in that child’s life. That’s what I liked. I liked that Littles developed the foundation of trust that the Big was going to be there and would listen and be interested in what’s going on in their lives. So when I retired, I decided to become a Big.”

Since November 2017, Louise has been in a school-based match with Cloe, who is now finishing 3rd grade. With school-based matches, Louise has been able to visit Cloe at her school and attend various BBBS-hosted events together. The first time Louise and Cloe met, Louise thought that Cloe was “very shy and bashful” and anticipated that Cloe would not be very talkative. However, it was not long into their get-to-know-you activity that Louise realized, “boy was I wrong! She quickly turned into a chatty Cathy — she became very interactive and told me all about her weekend, activities, and family! It was a very special moment for both us!”

One of Cloe’s favorite memories with Louise was when they made enchiladas together. Cloe often tells Louise, “Oh that was the most fun! Those enchiladas were GOOD!” and they like to reminisce about that day together. Louise and Cloe also enjoyed attending the Fire Station match event late last year. Louise laughed in remembering that day, saying “we had so much fun, those firemen treated us like royalty!” In addition, Louise and Cloe love to make crafts together. In fact, to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year Louise brought Cloe a bead necklace kit during lunchtime and they crafted pink, white, and red necklaces together. They even made several Valentine’s Day cards that Cloe later distributed to her teachers! Louise commented, “it has been so great seeing Cloe demonstrate such a generous spirit.”

Louise says she feels like Cloe has been a part of her life for much longer than the year and a half they’ve been matched. Louise often describes Cloe as someone who is innocent and full of awe and wonder. She loves how excited Cloe is by new things.

In regards to the match itself, Louise shared that “I have found it to be constructive to ask Cloe more questions about her opinions and feelings on different issues and circumstances, rather than stick to asking factual questions like what she did that day.” In her opinion, practicing asking these questions has allowed Louise to “not just be an adult for Cloe, but truly a friend.” While Louise can be seen helping Cloe practice her spelling and multiplication skills through various activities, Louise is also intentional about spending time with Cloe to just talk and be there for her.

Louise has been greatly encouraged by what she describes as “Cloe’s incredible sense of appreciation and thankfulness for everything.” Cloe’s overflowing gratitude has reminded Louise the importance of appreciating the little things in life, which has allowed her to adopt a more joyful attitude than before. For Louise, being matched with Cloe has given her “a fresh perspective to see the world through the lens of a child’s eyes and has allowed me to remember the things that are truly important in life.”