Little Sister Marley was matched with her Big Sister Glenda at age 12. She now works for Big Sisters and is the first point of contact for many of the families seeking our programs. Marley is an inspiration to us all at Big Sisters BCLM and credits her Big Sister for the confidence she now exudes. Here’s a letter she wrote about her experience:
A Letter from Former Little Sister Marley
Being 12 is not easy. Being 12 and a girl is really not easy. You’re going from childhood into adolescence, it’s a time when everything changes —your body, your frame of mind, your environment, everything. You feel like no one’s on your side, it’s you against the world, and forget about confidence… who has confidence when they’re 12? Certainly not me.
On the outside it may have seemed that way. I was super energetic and had a great group of friends, but inside I was insecure, shy, and had a lot of difficulties going on at home. I felt like I didn’t have a voice, that my opinions didn’t matter, and that I didn’t have anyone I could turn to.
That all changed when I met my Big Sister Glenda, and I truly do not know where I’d be if it wasn’t for her.
Growing up, it was just me, my dad, and my sister who is developmentally delayed. I had a lot of questions and insecurities at that time. There were things I didn’t want to talk to my dad about. I needed a female role model to confide in, look up to, and give me undivided attention. That’s who Glenda was and still is, for me.
Glenda showed up and was present for me every single week. I used to wait by the door and have my questions ready for when she arrived. Back then, she was the older friend who took me on cool adventures. But, looking back now, I can see that our friendship was so much more than hockey games and crafts. Those activities were simply her way to build our relationship. And, most importantly, my comfort level and trust that she was there for me.
Glenda helped me believe in myself and supported me through the tough teenage years. Including when I moved out of my Dad’s house when I was 15. She stayed with me even though I now lived an hour away from her. She also helped me write my very first resume and explained what “references” were.
And while you technically graduate from being a Little Sister once you turn 19—you know what? I’m now 26 and Glenda still shows up when it matters most. She encouraged me to pursue a job at Big Sisters after I finished college and still gives me great advice and guidance on my many many questions.
Our long-term friendship truly speaks to the level of dedication our caseworkers have for making great matches. At the time, I thought Glenda was magical. But, of course, now from working at Big Sisters I can see just how much work goes on behind the scenes. The real magic happens because of our caseworkers who not only make matches but support them the whole way through. They’re caring people and they’re great at what they do.
Of course, I still think Glenda is pretty magical.
My job involves processing referral forms for girls hoping for a Big Sister. I sometimes see parts of my younger self in these girls. Little Sisters on our waitlist who live in one-bedroom apartments with their dad sleeping in the living room. Girls who struggle so badly with depression or anxiety that they have to switch schools. Girls who have no friends and no confidence. It can be heartbreaking, but I know that they’ve come to the right place.
We have girls on our waitlist who feel abandoned by important people in their lives. Girls who have single moms battling life-threatening illnesses. Girls who are bullied so much they hide in their bedrooms every weekend.
These are real situations happening right now to girls on our waitlist, and they each need a Big Sister.
And, because I work at the front desk, I get to see the true impact a Big Sister has on these girls. When the Little Sisters arrive for the first time, they’re usually super shy and quiet. But then, after they’re matched with their Big Sister, I see newfound confidence in their bright eyes. It’s hard to put into words, but they’re somehow calmer now that they have someone in their corner. Knowing that I went through the same thing, I’m so happy they found their Big Sister.
The list of girls who need a mentor is long. Currently, there are 137 girls on our waitlist and some of them have been waiting over a year. When you’re young, one year is a very long time to wait.
What path will these Littles take if we give them a Big Sister? Just imagine who they will become.