Real Life Mentoring Stories: From Big Night to Big Sister


Real Life Mentoring Stories: From Big Night to Big Sister

by Kara Hopkins
Posted February 20, 2018

Let’s meet Rhonda! After attending last year’s Big Night, our largest fundraising event, Rhonda was inspired by the speakers and mission. She soon after inquired and is now matched with her Little Sister, Madison. Learn more about Rhonda’s experience, why she volunteered, and the impact she’s making as a Big Sister below.

Let’s start from the beginning. When and how did you first get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

I attended the BBBS Gala 2017 [Big Night] and was inspired by the speakers and their stories (Jeff Leerink) and I very much enjoyed the event.  I thought it was a wonderful program and I really considered becoming a Big Sister.  I felt this way before the Gala event – but suffice it to say that seeing Jeff and others speak about the life-changing experiences for all involved, it was surely the spark that lit a charge to act on my emotions. While we had a lot going on, including a full-time job simultaneous with a 10-month long home re-build / renovation, I realized that I will always have a lot going on….but that this Big Sister idea was so important, that I just had to make time for it.  Soon after, I decided it was time to reach out to BBBS so I made an inquiry online.

Describe the first time you met your Little Sister?

I met Madison at her home on Oct 25, 2017 at our first Match meeting with Lisa Gozbekian.  When I first met her, I thought she was just adorable!  While Lisa and Madison’s Nana and Grampa had a chance to talk in the kitchen, Madison showed me her room, all her toys and her radio and we listened to some of her favorite stations.  She was very outgoing and excited to show me around!

How would you describe your relationship with your Little?

My relationship with Madison is blossoming and I have been blessed to be part of her life.  I love that she is outgoing and her curiosity is motivating and she has a willingness to try new things.  I believe we are developing a “Sister” bond that can only get stronger as our relationship grows.

Has being a Big Sister taught you anything? About yourself? About others?

By becoming a Big Sister, I see the potential to change a young person’s life.  Someone who needs and deserves love based on some misfortunes that came along with her life, and at way too young of an age.  It has shown me that by building a relationship brick by brick, this “little person” looks up to me and counts on me.  It is one of the most wonderful feelings, it makes my heart go warm.  This is easy for me and is a lot of fun to spend time together, all the while making an impact on so many levels.  I’ve learned that I have so much love to give.  And that even though my own life has been far from perfect, my experience, my stories, and my love can do wondrous things when applied in a selfless manner.

Do you have a favorite experience or memory with your Little?

Yes. I picked up Madison for the second time and we were on our way to a park.  She said, “I missed you!” and another time she said, “Are you part of my family now?” It was endearing and I realized while it’s only been a short time that we have known each other, I have already made a positive impression/impact.  It was truly a great feeling.  Madison says she missed me every time we get together now, and I see how proud she is to introduce me to her friends.

What other activities do you and your Little enjoy doing the most?

Madison invited me to her 8th birthday party at the Gloucester Cinema to see Paddington 2.  It was great to see her interact with all her friends and to be the center of attention.  Activities we have done together are bowling, visits to various parks, we made cupcakes and simply hang out together.  On our next activity, we are going to make painted wood hearts and butterfly crafts; Madison wants to gift them to her family.  There is so much more that I want to do with Madison, especially as the weather gets warmer; fishing, miniature golf, going to the beach and having picnics to name a few.  There are a bunch of other ideas that are swirling around in my head, some of which are created by simply paying attention to the many outlets Big Brother Big Sister has created with local businesses and communities.  I don’t think we’ll ever run out of ideas!

Is there a specific memory you have where you realized you were making an impact in your Little’s life? 

One of our planned activities this past fall was at Deveraux Beach in Marblehead.  We hung out at the playground for a while, walked the ocean and collected rocks and then went to Shubies to pick up cookies before driving up to Chandler Hovey Park to see the light house and have a picnic lunch.  We watched the lobster boats in the water and learned what moorings and lobster traps were!  Madison said “you really care about me” and I said, “You bet I do!”  These are the small moments that can inspire and build treasured memories to last a lifetime.

How do you see your relationship with your Little developing in the future?  Is there anything you hope to instill in her?

I hope to open up her world to new ideas and places, interesting activities, things she hasn’t seen or done before and sharing those small moments together.  I hope to show her that she will always have me for as long as she wants; that she can lean on me anytime and I will always be there.  As she gets older, I hope that I can guide her through navigating the challenges of life.  To be a good mentor, to be a friend and family, and sometimes just to listen.  In short, to be my best self.

Is there anything else significant I haven’t asked about that you would like to add?

This experience has enhanced my life in so many ways.  Words cannot describe what it feels like to have someone look up to you.  To share experiences and answer curiosities, to learn about each other can be so rewarding and can develop into a relationship that can last a lifetime.  With so many big causes for one to hitch up to, many people ask themselves, “How in the world can I truly make any difference?”  This is one cause near and dear to my heart, where instantly I am making a difference, in the life of a very special young girl.

For more information on how you or someone you know can get involved, visit


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