Emily first became aware of BBBS when a representative visited one of her English classes at ACU to share about the need for volunteer mentors. Soon, Emily started hearing from friends who had been involved in the program just how much they grew to love their Little, and how special that relationship was. Having grown up with three sisters, Emily said, “I was immediately excited about the idea of having a Little Sister/Brother to spend time with in Abilene, honestly, because I missed my [own] sisters so much! I knew I had to be involved!” Not long after, Emily applied to be a Big and was soon matched with her Little Brother, LD.
Four years ago, Emily met her Little Brother for the first time right after both of their birthdays which happen to be just one day apart…January 22nd and January 23rd! During their first meeting, Emily remembers “he was instantly so happy to have someone to spend time with him, and he was so excited that he couldn’t stay in his seat. I was more nervous, because I wanted to make sure that I could give him the best possible Big Sister experience that I could. I wanted to make sure that I was not just another person in his life that was not willing to stick around.”
For Emily, the greatest challenge that she had to overcome (one she said did not seem to bother LD as much) was the gender difference. As Emily grew up with only sisters, she worried about not knowing what an elementary-aged boy would want to talk about or not having ideas for activities he would enjoy. However, she remembered the moment when “after a few visits, LD made it very clear that he didn’t care what we talked about or what activities we did as long as we got to do them together. I realized that he was better at this whole program than I was, so I had the opportunity to learn from him. I realized that I didn’t want a forced relationship, but one that we created naturally. By just a few months into our match, he was telling people and other students that I was his sister, that his family was my family, and my family was his family. I loved it!”
As for the activities they liked to do together, Emily and her Little loved to color different coloring pages, mold play-dough and create stories out of the characters they made up, as well as fold paper airplanes together and fly them around the grassy area outside of the lunch room of his school. Emily’s favorite memory of their time together, though, would still be when she was able to attend one of LD’s musical performances at his school. She said, “It was such a blessing to be able to surprise him and show my support for things that he enjoyed outside of school.”
After nearly four years of being matched with LD, Emily graduated from ACU and moved to Austin to pursue her doctorate degree. While she and LD are not officially matched anymore, the two are still in touch and still siblings at heart. Emily shared, “My absolute favorite thing about my Little Brother is his constant willingness to be happy in spite of hardships in his life. He has the biggest heart and biggest smile. His positive emotions were always infectious. There were several times when a 20-minute lunch with LD turned a really bad day into a great one…I saw how bringing LD a new activity, or asking him to decide what we do at the next lunch brought him so much joy, and I realized that I was not appreciating the smaller details of my life like he was. Over the past four years, I have discovered a new joy in the aspects of my life that are not always the ones to create an immediate or obvious result.”
Now, Emily can’t stop sharing about BBBS! Emily’s word of advice to all those who are thinking about becoming a Big is simply to “think like Nike and just do it! There are so many kids out there who just need someone to show interest in their day or their well-being. You have no idea the impact that you will have on their lives, and how lasting their impact will be on your own life. I still send LD Christmas and Birthday cards, and letters throughout the year so that he knows that I am still thinking of him and wishing him well. I hope that others would see the benefit of this incredible program…being matched with a Little Brother was an incredible learning experience for me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!”