“I have a story to tell you about my personal experience with Big Sisters and my life before. My name is Darci and I have been a part of Big Sisters for the past six years, since I was thirteen years old. I have been impacted very positively by this program. I feel that once you know a bit about my background and history, you will better understand where I came from and how grateful I am that an organization like this exists.
My mother introduced me to the idea of having a Big Sister when stresses in my life were getting to me. There was a time when we did have an acceptable amount of money and when I did have friends, but one day all that seemed to disappear and, as I look back now, there were a lot of events that led up to me needing a Big Sister.
My parents split up when I was young and that caused me to feel even more fearful and unstable. I had already witnessed violence and a lack of communication with my parents growing up, which made me feel unsafe emotionally and intellectually. It was hard to open up after going through such trauma. My parents never could truly understand me so when I did try opening up, I ended up feeling judged and criticized for thinking and feeling in a way they didn't want to accept. It caused me to put up a wall and, when you're young, a wall stops you from being a child and from being all you can. Slowly, I started noticing my friends parting from me during my elementary years. I began to get bullied for my appearances and it made me feel more alone and my self-esteem got very low.
Through all these struggles I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I ended up isolating myself and having to just take care of myself. I pulled through those burdens but without the supports I needed, it cost me my childhood and many friendships. I was like a robot. Living, but having little connection to others. Until I joined Big Sisters. I've had two Big Sisters over the past 6 years - my first match lasted about a year and within that time I started feeling a little better about myself. We went our own ways after that year, and the Big Sisters caseworkers immediately started to search for a new Big Sister for me.
It was then I met Michelle, my Big Sister for the past five years. She has been my mentor, my friend, and a true sister. She is everything to me because she has been there for me in any way I needed. I have
turned to her and we have talked through my difficult situations. She doesn't put me down. She has accepted me as I am and that is what encouraged me to be myself. I'm not sure she knows how great she is because that's who she is naturally. I feel that she has helped raise me. I value all her teachings. I have learned about strength, respect and self-expression. She has taught me life skills and confidence so I can see for myself how I can reach my full potential. She has pushed me to grow and go far and that's where I'm headed. I never knew that about myself before. We are matched perfectly.
I plan on inspiring others with what she has taught me, especially my daughter. I got lucky to be introduced to Big Sisters. I come from a low income family and a really tough neighbourhood. There is a lot of pressure with growing up around drugs, alcohol and all kinds of abuse. When you're already so vulnerable because of the lack in role models and supports in your life, it’s hard to move forward and create a better life. This is where I come from and there are many more girls, who are just waiting and hoping for a way out. Unfortunately, many children in these situations end up just staying where they are and continuing this cycle because there really is nowhere left to go for help.
That is why I'm here sharing my life story. Girls need positive role models to get out of the cycle and to feel like they have power over themselves and their lives. I don't want my daughter or nieces to feel like they're weak or unimportant. Without this program I probably wouldn't have known that there was an outlet. I probably wouldn't have graduated from high school or started college but that is what I am doing now.
Girls and women can be successful with the right foundation and I feel that is what Big Sisters provides.”
- Darci, alumni Little Sister, age 19