Take Your Little To Work Day
We celebrated Take Your Little to Work Day in January (during National Mentoring Month), but really, any day that your Little doesn't have to be in school is a great day to offer a glimpse into the working world. How cool is it that Little Sister Alicia, who loves science class, had the chance to visit a working lab at her Big Sister Marguerite's workplace?
Our Littles Went to College
Lots of Bigs and Littles took us up on the opportunity to hang out at USF and UT for a day this summer. They got to tour the campuses, check out the dorm rooms and lots more!
From Little Sister to Junior Bridesmaid
Jennifer Libby (formerly Gandee), our VP of Program Services, has a lot of great memories from her recent wedding, but one that's really special is the fact that her Little Sister, Amanda, was her Junior Bridesmaid. "She was part of the whole wedding weekend and by my side the whole time!," says Jen. Amanda's mother brought twelve-year-old Amanda to the wedding--and it was especially meaningful because Amanda recently moved to Tennessee. Although Jen and Amanda's match is officially closed, clearly they have a bond that will remain strong, even long distance. Jen and Amanda were matched in 2004.
Big Brother Devante Robinson and Little Brother Lazius take a quick break before hitting the court.
Meet a Hillsborough High School student who loves being a Big Brother so much that he decided on his own to hold a fundraiser--jousting gladiators and all--to support what we do. Now that's starting something! His story made the St. Petersburg Times, and it starts like this:
The typical progression to mentor begins with aspirations to give back — after you've gone to college, graduated, gotten a job and established yourself as a success. Devante J. Robinson couldn't wait that long.
Click here to read the rest of this inspiring story!
School's Out For The Summer!
Many of our Littles ended the school year with pride, accolades, honors and achievements, and we couldn't be prouder of them! (Did you know that last year, more than 95% of our Littles were promoted to the next grade level? Pretty impressive when you consider that many kids are referred to our program because they're having difficulties in school!)
Two of our Littles, Leanna and Christian received Turnaround Awards from the Juvenile Justice Council of Pasco County. Leanna attends Pace Center for Girls and has been matched with her Big Sister Nadine for just over a year, but it almost ended two months after it began. Leanna brought home all Fs that summer and her mother was ready to take away the privilege of going on fun outings with a Big Sister. Instead, their mentor manager, Heather, convinced Leanna's mother to give the match a chance if Nadine and Leanna agreed to spend more of their time together focused on schoolwork. Leanna made big improvements in her grades and her attitude at home. Thrilled to see her daughter trying her hardest and succeeding in school, Leanna's mother thinks Nadine is the best thing that could have happened to Leanna.
Leanna and her very proud mom after Leanna received the Turnaround Award.
Christian was a struggling second-grader at Marlowe Elementary when he was matched with his Big Sister, Kaitlyn, at the beginning of this school year. He could barely read, had trouble with math, lacked self-esteem and had behavior problems at school. So once a week, Kaitlyn met him at school to work on both academic skills and improving Christian's attitude. What a difference a year makes! Christian is reading well, has improved his grades and his behavior at school and is even finding time to pursue his passion for music and art.
Kaitlyn found a way to make practicing division fun!
Both Leanna and Christian have improved their grades and behavior this school year and have become leaders to their fellow classmates. Way to go, Leana and Christian!!
We brag a lot around the office, so it's not surprising that Mike Trepper, our former Director of Strategic Initiatives, couldn't resist sharing this picture of his Little Brother, Jermaine. Mike is also proud to say that Jermaine is not just a sharp dresser, he's a sharp student, too. He passed his FCATs and was one of just 10 students in his elementary school to be accepted to Stewart Middle Magnet.
Big Brother Maneesh and his Little Brother Gianni have been matched for about two years. Maneesh is noticing a big change in his once-shy Little Brother--he's become a HUGE Rays fan!!
Lots of Littles=lots of fun at Crystal Lake Elementary!
Big Brother Troy and his Little Brother Cameron were among the 150 who turned out for our annual spring picnic in Tampa. Games, crafts, food and great weather were enjoyed by all.
Big Sister Jennifer Adams and her Little Sister Felisha have only been together for two months but they've clearly already bonded! They had fun watching the Yankees at a Spring Training game and they're especially excited that Felisha's mom saw such an improvement in Felisha's attitude that she let her go on her first sleepover at a friend's house.
Community service is a wonderful thing to share with your Little. Big Brother Ron Bobb-Semple took his Little Brother Malik to help prepare and serve food for the homeless in St. Pete.
Bull Your Way into College/Know-How-to-Go Event
Some lucky Littles had a chance to go to college...at least for a day! This is the second Know-How-to-Go Event at the University of South Florida, which is an educational opportunity for Littles to learn more about attending college. The Littles were paired with USF volunteers for the day, given a grand tour of the campus, and had the chance to ask USF admissions staff everything they wanted to know about college! As one Little said, "It was awesome!" We know that many of our Littles are a step closer to reaching their college goals. Mallory Trochesset and Lyndsey Schoenberg from the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement for planning and coordinating the event. And thanks to the Green and Gold Tour Guides, the panelists, as well as members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity for ending the day with an entertaining step show.
Check out this picture! Big Brother Neil Armstrong took his Little Brothers Jamaine, Solmon and their little brother Jonathan to the USF Bulls v. Louisville game, thanks to tickets donated from Verizon Foundation!
Start Something and Witness the Change in a Child's Life
Written by Kristen Brown, Enrollment Specialist in Polk
One day I was standing in line waiting to get lunch and I noticed a Little Sister who was with her Big Sister. The young girl was laughing and joking and full of smiles. I thought to myself how much that child looks like a little girl named Zoe I had interviewed a few months earlir. It was then that I realized it was Zoe. The difference between when I met Zoe and now was amazing. She was so sad when interviewed her...she acted like she had th weight of the world on hr young shoulders. They ended up living with thier grandpa when their father pased away and their mother lost her parental rights. Zoe had clearly taken on a kind of mothering role for her two younger siters. She needed someone for he, and the cahnce to be a kid! She was so happy when I saw her, her entire demeanor was diferent. It literally brought tears to my eyes.
The Best Christmas Gift Ever
Written by Mentor Manager Liz Booth
As Big Sister Tammy was getting off a plane at the Tampa Airport one night, she received a call from a friend who happened to be in town, and who just happened to have a pair of floor tickets for the Justin Bieber concert that evening, a show that was about to start in a few minutes. Knowing that her Little Sister Heather LOVES Justine Bieber, Tammy quickly called Heather's mom to see if they would be able to attend...and Heather's mom said yes! Heather's mom met Tammy at the St. Pete Times Forum and Heather was able to get her 'Christmas wish of a lifetime', as Tammy put it. As they walked into the Forum, suspended above them in a heart was Justin Bieber playing his guitar and singing. Heather looked at her Big Sister and said, "I think I'm going to faint." It was an amazing night for both Heather and Tammy. Looking back on the night, Tammy said, "Being a Big Sister was the Best Christmas gift anyone could ever give me"