Story last updated at 1/21/2009 - 11:41 am
KETCHIKAN - "You are the bestest 'Big Sister' in the whole wide world!" said "Little Sister" Terri Jean.
The match of "Little" Terri Jean with "Big" Karen within Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is a relatively new match. As their story unfolds, you'll notice a child whose trust in her adult mentor increases with each successive shared activity.
Picnicking at Ward Lake with other Bigs and Littles became an adventure for Karen and Terri Jean - they had the opportunity to play with the BBBS Program Coordinator's dog. To Terri Jean's delight, with her constant tossing of the ball for the dog, the dog retrieved it every time. Karen says Terri Jean had "such an amazing time with me and the dog as we shared watching the dog having adventure also!"
Terri Jean's Auntie's says of the BBBS program: "We all are so thrilled and blessed that Terri Jean could have a companion as a Big Sister. Since the Big Sister has come into her life, she has changed. Terri Jean smiles more and is more pleasant. She has improved in her school work. Having a Big Sister for Terri Jean is the best thing that has happened to her."
Karen also has noticed positive changes in Terri Jean.
"I have seen a difference in Terri Jean's attitude," she says. "She has really blossomed with her smile and disposition towards other people. She is more excited on each visit that we have together. Terri Jean is always anxious to choose something that we can do together."
Karen and Terri Jean enjoy all the activities they do together - hiking around the circumference of Ward Lake, bicycling, beach combing, artwork (painting in particular), cooking, and visiting the library - and their two favorites are beach combing and cooking.
Karen applied to become a BBBS Big when she realized her volunteering wouldn't "take a lot of time in donating to a child." Now, having become a Big, she says, "It enables me to give back to the community in a sharing process of investing my time to our youth."
Says Little Terri Jean: "I wanted someone to have time with, and my Auntie helped. I am able to have a Big Sister to talk to and have fun with."
Though Karen and Terri Jean have been matched for only a relatively short period of time, Karen says Terri Jean has been willing to try new activities.
The BBBS enrollment process includes a focus on security with background checks of Bigs.
"I think it is very good as it keeps our community safe and protects everyone," says Terri Jean's Auntie.
Says Karen: "Terri Jean is always so joyful in seeing me or [talking with me] when I call her on the telephone. I especially like her asking questions about life and wanting to know more about how things work! For her, her why questions bring out much growth, and she sees the world around her better. My Little brings much sunshine into my life with her beautiful spirit and smile she is always sharing with me."
To find out more about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, call 247-3350 in Ketchikan, 586-3350 in Juneau or visit www.bigbrothersbigsistersalaska.org.