In 2010 I made it a goal and priority of mine to give back to the community and help others in any way I can. I made two big decisions: to rescue a puppy from the San Jose Animal Shelter (more on Gracie later) and mentor a child in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. These were both two very life changing decisions and I am so happy I made them.
After applying to be a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization I waited for the approval process. It consisted of a detailed background check, intensive references, where each reference filled out an interview and questionnaire about me, and an in person interview with the match specialist. This process took about three months.
I can vividly remember the time I heard the news that I was matched with Sydney! I was in Maui with my mother during the summer and I got an email stating they found me a match! Sydney was then 9 years old and living with her mom and grandma in San Jose. The match specialist told me a little about her situation and family life and what she was looking for in a Big Sister. We are both the only children and she always wanted a big sister…just like I wanted a little or big sister of my own! I immediately responded, “Yes, Sydney sounds like a perfect match..when can we meet?” Within weeks I met the then timid Sydney and her mother in the Milpitas BBBS office.
My role as a big sister is to mentor Sydney and provide a safe and trusting relationship for her to grow and become a more confident individual. I do everything I can to teach her more about life, trust, honesty and just share my morals and integrity with her. She has had a very tough life…her dad has been in and out of prison her whole life. I was able to meet her father once in our 1.5 year relationship but he was quickly put back in only after a short one month. She was devastated and so was I. I finally got to see a sense of normalcy and family life for her and sadly it was quickly taken within a few short weeks. Also during this period, her grandmother who helped raise her and lived with her her whole life, died of lung cancer.
I have seen her go through so much and it breaks my heart. But the one thing that does stays consistent is me, her big sister, and that makes my heart smile.