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Big Sister: Big reward

Posted: February 19, 2012 - 1:01am
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Sophie feigns distress at being stranded in Southeast Alaska's smallest, and only, "desert" - a zen garden beneath the stairwell at the Juneau Empire.  Melissa Griffiths
Melissa Griffiths
Sophie feigns distress at being stranded in Southeast Alaska's smallest, and only, "desert" - a zen garden beneath the stairwell at the Juneau Empire.

I have been a big sister since I was one-year-11-months-and-some-days-old. Still, it wasn’t until recently that I felt like I might be a good candidate to be a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Perhaps I finally felt I’d grown up enough that I could be in a mentorship relationship without wondering where my mentor is. Maybe it is that I really miss having a close (distance) relationship with my own little sisters, who don’t live in Alaska, and wanted that warm-fuzzy feeling that comes with a familial but not authoritarian relationship.

I signed up to get a Little in late 2011 and interviewed with a friendly staff member, who asked questions about my interests and my comfort with different personality traits. I tend to be pretty easy-going, but I thought I should out myself right away for being clumsy and unlikely to go downhill skiing on a regular basis. I will probably try anything once, though I will likely continue to employ the fall-down method of stopping when I feel like things are getting out-of-control fast, or about 10 mph.

I got a call about a potential match in late January or early February. This is after it was determined that I was not a criminal (not even a ticket on my record!) and that I was a good personality match for one of the potential Littles out there.

I got to meet my potential match and her mother on a Monday evening. Sophie is my Little. She may seem a little shy at first, but she is bright and spontaneous.

We had our first meeting on a Sunday afternoon. We met at Silverbow Bakery and spent the hour looking at photos, drawing and talking about our families. We drew out our family trees. Sophie’s is pretty simple. Mine is more of a daunting forest.

I invited Sophie to come see where I work and we were both really excited about it. We had initially planned to meet that following Tuesday, but she caught a bug so we had to postpone.

So, this Tuesday I picked Sophie up from school and took her to the Juneau Empire building.

She got a tour of the building, from the newsroom to the press to the unnoticed Zen garden under the stairs. I introduced her to different people around the office. I showed her a little of what I do (which is more exciting to me than to others, it seems). With time left before her mom could pick her up, we decided to go on a photo safari around the office, taking photos in various places to make our very own newspaper page.

Clearly, there were other important news items to share in the Neighbors section, so I won’t be sharing the entire spread, but I think it is worth noting that Big Brothers Big Sisters is important. And fun.

It has always been important to me to play a positive role in my community. I pick, click and give, I have volunteered at the Glory Hole and in the schools, I have answered phones for public radio and I have helped put together silent auctions and fundraising events, among other things.

There’s something a little different about being a Big, though. It’s that the warm-fuzzy feeling doesn’t come just from “doing good.” It comes from spending time with someone you like. It comes from playing and not just working or giving. It comes from being motivated to try new things and to be a better person because of your Little. It is a mutual relationship in which you get back what you give in a way that feels a lot more real than a letter in the mail, thanking you for your financial donation.

Don’t become a Big because you want someone to benefit from how awesome you are. Become a Big because you recognize how awesome these kids are and how much of a positive impact they can make in your life as well.

Thinking of becoming a Big? Visit bbbsak.org.

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