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September 18, 2012

Big for a Day

Volunteer in Training Event Recap

Heather Bohrer

By Jennifer Collins
Community Relations Team Member
Last Saturday I got to meet a quiet, intelligent 10 year old girl who seems wise beyond her years. She is one of many children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting list. Community Relations was approached months ago by Big Brothers Big Sisters about doing a “Big for a Day” event. I’ve had little interaction with the program – but who doesn’t know a big or at least heard about the great benefits the program provides. All of us on the Community Relations team felt this was a great addition to our new “Volunteer in Training” program, which coordinates events that introduce YPs to different organizations with volunteer opportunities. 
 
I arrived at the Zoo this morning intrigued to meet the kids, but nervous that I would have nothing in common with my little. Jennifer Koftan with Big Brothers Big Sisters warmly welcomed us, and shared her story about her little. She explained the different avenues of involvement you can have with the organization. You can commit as little as 30 minutes once a week to meet for lunch of after school, or, up to 3-4 hours per week.   
 
A few minutes into Jennifer’s presentation, we knew the Littles had arrived by their excited voices outside. We paired off with children ranging from 1st to 5th grade, then headed off to explore the zoo.
 
My Little was probably as nervous as I was, and started the morning very quietly. As the morning progressed, we did find some points of common interest, and got to know each other a bit. Her younger sister was also with the group, and reminded me of my little sister at that age (she drove me crazy!).  I’m sure many experienced touching moments. One of mine was overhearing the younger sister of my Little talking to a Big Brothers Big Sisters staff member. The staff member told her she matched a Little to a Big that morning, and the little girl responded, “I want to be matched!”.
 
Also in the group were some less reserved children – one that remains in my mind is a little firecracker who had a bundle of energy. As we explored the zoo, someone found a peacock feather on the ground and kept it as a souvenir.  Later, while we were eating lunch, the little girl saw the peacock in the window and yelled, “he wants his feather back!”.
 

As the Littles departed, hugs were exchanged, and several of the YPs at the event asked to be matched with their Little.  I wished my Little good luck at school this week, and she surprised me with a hug as well.  Since being home, I’ve googled the location of my Littles school, and I think I can make it there for a weekly lunch.  Seems like a smaller commitment than I thought before meeting my Little.  🙂

about the author

Jennifer Collins is a Business Manager for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the KU School of Medicine–Wichita. Jennifer graduated from Wichita State University with a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A member of YPW since 2009, Jennifer serves on the Community Relations team helping YP’s find opportunities to give back to the community. During the summer you’ll find her at the lake on her boat; the rest of the year she enjoys traveling, cheering on WSU and KU basketball, and reading.

 

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