Meet Susan & Grecia
Susan and Grecia were matched in Shawnee County in October 2014 when Grecia was 8. Over the years they've been matched, the two have become the best of friends doing things like hiking around Shawnee County, binging Netflix's Nailed It!, going on adventures, and building their own traditions.
"My favorite memory is when we went to the movies once. After, Susan suggested we go get FroYo and it was pouring, but so fun to run in the rain. That was so fun and something I remember vividly," recalled Grecia.
Susan added, "My favorite memories are kind of a group. Since we've been matched for so long, there are seasonal things we like to do every year. So at Christmas time, we like to make gingerbread houses, and then in the summer we do the Grecia and Susan Olympics but modified for our skill level."
The pair's Match Support Specialist, Bella, described them as the perfect match because of their similarities including their understanding, intuitive, and kind hearted nature.
Grecia's mother, Marlen, originally decided to enroll her in the program so she would have a mentor outside the home. "I was looking for a role model for my kids and in that moment I was thinking about their future. This was one of the best decisions I ever made. When I look at the two of them together, they are amazing," she said. "Susan has been great for Grecia. She's changed her life -- she's a different kid."
Susan talked about how Grecia hated reading when they first started meeting. Then, the year Grecia turned 11, she made a deal with her: read 11 books over summer break and they would take a trip to Worlds of Fun. "Do you know how fast she read those books? A week and a half. I think that's all she did for a week and a half and the great thing is she still reads, now for fun. That is never something I would've seen her doing when we first met."
Grecia says some other changes she's seen in herself since being matched with Susan are being more responsible, organized, mature and taking school more seriously, so far earning all A's in high school.
When asked what qualifications are needed to be a successful Big, Susan said, "I think the most important thing as far as qualifications for being a Big are you just have to show up. I don't really do anything special other than be me and hang out with her. You just have to be there."
Grecia agreed, adding, "Susan has helped me in so many ways. She's helped me in little things with advice and listening to my problems, and she's just there for me...anything I'm going through, she's always there."
Talking about what the future looks like for Grecia in 10 years, she laid out her plan saying, "Definitely in the future I'm going to be living somewhere outside of Topeka, and I'm at least going to have two dogs and one cat. I'm going to be in some type of medical field, not sure what yet, but something that helps others, and I'm definitely going to still be talking to Susan at least once a week."
Susan nodded, "She's said to me a few times in talking about the program ending after high school, 'what happens after that?' and I'm like, 'I'm not going anywhere, you're stuck with me.' This is forever."
If Grecia and Susan prove one thing, it's that friendships made through Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters span far beyond the the program to last a lifetime.
You can become a life-changing mentor like Susan by getting started here.