by Kristen Gloss
Like many other JBBBS volunteers, I didn’t know if I would be a good Big Sister when I first applied. I didn’t know if I could come up with topics to talk about or activities that would interest my Little. I worried that whoever I was matched with, we just wouldn’t connect. Putting yourself out there can be difficult regardless of age. All I knew is that I wanted to be there for a young adult in the same way that I could have benefited from a mentor when I was teen. I wanted to let someone else know that they were not alone.
My worries of not being good enough or capable enough as a Big quickly dissipated because of the support of JBBBS’ Clinical Match Specialist and my first meeting with my Little. Alina and I met in January of 2020, before the word Coronavirus really meant anything to me. At our initial meeting, I saw a young girl who was just as nervous and excited to be there as I was. Falling into our friendship was easy. We both loved animals, enjoyed going on walks, and playing card games. Even if we didn’t have all of those things in common though, we both wanted to be there and that was more than enough.
We were lucky and got to meet in-person several times before quarantine began. We took part in bowling, a coloring and cards morning, and eating pancakes with maple syrup at Drumlin Farm. Our bond quickly solidified over good food and our love of animals.
I remember back to those first few get-togethers and simultaneously realize there was nothing to worry about and wonder how it has already been two years of friendship with my Little. It has been wonderful to experience a variety of activities through her eyes, especially photography walks, ice skating, and the Franklin Park Zoo. When I take a moment longer to reflect on this experience, I realize how much more I have received from being a Big than I think I give.
Being a Big for me, has been about just being there for my Little and knowing she will be a part of my life even when it feels like nothing else makes sense anymore. The COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone, but I knew that no matter what was going on, my Little could count on me to support her, and I could count on her to bring laughter and connection. I love listening to her talk about her school day, what she does with her friends, and everything that makes up her life. Spending time with my Little has given me something to look forward to and get excited about no matter how dark the world can seem. Just seeing her get excited about whatever activity we plan to do together or how passionate she gets while talking about something (often animals), makes me smile. This match has meant so much to me and carried me through the fear and disconnect that it was so easy to feel lost in during the initial stages of the pandemic. Words cannot fully express how grateful I am to be a part of Alina’s life and share all of the little things that brighten our days together.
Kristen Gloss is a writer, editor, and photographer based in Waltham.