Big Brothers Big Sisters: mentorship matters

12 years ago, I volunteered to be a Big Sister at the Boys and Girls Club because I thought it would look good for my graduate school applications.

I was 21 at the time and I was matched with an “older troubled tween that nobody wants to mentor” named Cassie. You see, Cassie, 11, wasn’t troubled at all. She was sweet, kind and wise beyond her years. She just had a rough upbringing. Cass and I both grew up poor, but she had it much worse than I did. I grew up in a stable, loving home with two immigrant parents. She was brought up by a single mother struggling to raise five young children.

For three years, we spent an hour every Wednesday at The Club doing supervised school activities together. After a few months, I committed to taking her out for unsupervised fun outside of the Club two Saturdays a month.

I took it upon myself to take her everywhere- from rock climbing to laser tag to movies and library dates. Our Saturdays were always filled with some sort of active or educational experience. I even took her to Disneyland one year because she told me she’s never been before.

I don’t know why I felt so obligated to show her a different life outside of what she knows. I wanted to show her that with some hard work and determination, she can rise above and move out of the ghetto.

And she did. My Little is now 23 years old and all grown up. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college last year. 👏🏽👏🏽

Over the years, I watched Cass blossom into a courageous young woman living her own unapologetic life and I am so damn proud of her.

She is the reason why I have always known that I want to foster and/or adopt a child one day. She taught me that I could love and care for any child that does not carry my DNA. And if I were to adopt, I’d choose an “older troubled kid that nobody wants”.

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