Lifelong Friends: Big Sister Caitlin and Little Sister Isabell
Although Big Sister Caitlin and Little Sister Isabell have been matched just over a year and a half ago, they quickly became best friends and plan to stay matched for a long time. The Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters (KSBBBS) volunteer mentoring program requires a minimum one-year commitment, but through a best-fit matching process, Bigs and Littles occasionally end up being lifelong friends.
Bigs and Littles are suggested to each other from professionally trained staff at KSBBBS based on common personalities, interests, location, etc. with the goal of a more natural, meaningful, and long-lasting relationships.
Caitlin felt drawn to Isabell after learning more about her at a waiting Little file showing, which is an important part of the KSBBBS volunteer enrollment and best-fit matching process. “I have always been a feeling person and so something jumped off the page at me. I don’t know that I can explain it, but it felt right. It felt like I needed to be there for this kiddo in a sense,” said Caitlin. “What I’ve learned throughout my years, is to trust those instincts of what feels right and the right move.”
Due to genuine trust and support from within their best-fit match, Bigs often report on how much their Littles’ confidence and self-esteem increases during their relationship.
“I think I was most surprised by how much I could help,” said Caitlin. “I know talking to her caregiver that she’s just so pleased to see her personality come out, and faster than she thought. She accredited me to a lot of that and I was very surprised by that because I think they are doing a phenomenal job in their home…it brought out just how much you can mean to somebody in a little time.”
From the time that they first met, it was evident that they represented a best-fit match since their interactions came naturally and their friendship blossomed quickly. Isabell was so excited to start meeting with Caitlin, the duo jump started their friendship by having their first outing after the match meeting and then made plans to hang out that weekend.
Fast forward to the present, Caitlin and Isabell still enjoy spending time together, going out to eat, and letting their creativity lead their outings. They are closer than ever and never have a dull moment.
“We just laugh all the time, it’s just such a silly time,” said Caitlin. “My favorite thing about us is the adventure and exploration because we can go to any setting together and not necessarily know what we are looking for, but the adventure together has what has been the best.”
Caitlin added: “What I learned is that, even though you can’t see them every day or even every week, those meetings that you have a couple times a month stay with them and those kiddos just knowing that you’re out there means the world to them, from my perspective.”
A Guardian’s Hope
Isabell came into Anne’s care about two years ago. As a young child, Isabell has experienced many things that caused her to not fully trust adults and her living situation. Anne enrolled Isabell in the KSBBBS mentoring program “to give her a little bit of individuality, to have something for herself that she had never had.”
Reflecting on Isabell being matched with Caitlin, Anne said: “I think you guys did a phenomenal job in this match, they like the same things, they get along so well, and I just, I can’t imagine getting through this last year and a half without Caitlin, in two years I’ve had Izzy.”
Anne continued: “I couldn’t imagine getting through this without the support to help me bring Isabell to her full potential. Caitlin helped me bring her out of her shell that she was in and she has been in for eight years.”
Anne is a former Little Sister and was matched with her Big in 1988-89. To this day, they still talk and stay connected through Facebook. Anne shared that she and her Big had a strong relationship “up until I got married, that’s when I think I finally started to do my own thing, but we still stayed in touch.”
Anne’s ultimate goal for Caitlin and Isabell’s match is that “they continue to grow as she gets older, and Caitlin continues on this journey. That they continue to find the time to spend together and talk. That’s my goal for them is being a lifelong thing. I know mine is. Mine still is a lifelong thing.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer mentor (Big), click here.