This guest post is written by Roxanne Hoke-Chandler, who is the proud mother of two girls. She is a graduate of Lesley University and has been working for the Federation for Children with Special Needs for 10 years.
Four years ago, I signed my daughter up to have a Big Sister. It was important to me that she see life through someone else’s eyes, who had similar values and aspirations. I asked for a mentor who I thought could help expose and support my theme of education, community and self-worth to my daughter. Sometimes it is helpful for children to experience and learn things from people other than their parents, and we cannot solely rely on teachers - they have their hands full.
As her parent, I wanted more for her. I wanted her to have experiences and good times separate from her sibling who has significant special needs. I wanted and needed help nurturing her own identity. I needed a mentor for her.
When I asked her what type of mentor she wanted, she said “someone younger than you, mom.” I understood that statement. She did not want another mother. Then she said she wanted someone who looked like her. Truthfully, I was grateful she saw the value in that. We have plenty of positive people in our lives that do not resemble our heritage. If she was to bond with this Big Sister, it was really important to me that she was a woman of color.
A year after I made the request, on her 9th birthday we got the call that a match was found. I was ecstatic for the match, but often wonder how many more children are waiting. I serve as a mentor for youth in my church, and remind young woman to give back and volunteer so that other children will not have to wait so long.
I am grateful to the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and our Big Sister for being a part of our lives. I encourage other women of color to become mentors and to impact the lives of young children in their community.
Ebony-Joy Chandler is in 7th grade at Mother Caroline Academy. Her favorite classes are English and literature. She enjoys babysitting and tries not to spend too much time on the internet unless it’s for school work.
This December, my Big Sister and I will officially have been paired for four years. I remember when I first found out that we were paired up with each other. It was my 9th birthday when I got a call from the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. These last four years I've shared have been a roller coaster. We've done everything from an intense game of laser tag to simply going to a library to play card games.
Every time I go out with her, I never really know what to expect from her. My Big Sister always finds a way for me to have fun. I think that's because she has a son. He's a couple of years younger than me but when we do get to go out together we always have fun. I think that my Big Sister might be so fun because of her son. Because she already has a young child, she knows what children will like. And because I am older than her child, she also gets a picture of what kinds of things he will like when he gets older.
I've had so much fun with my Big Sister. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have her in my life. I would forever be at home with nothing to do. I would have never been to a Red Sox game. She has made an impact in my life and I will always be grateful. She helped me make my childhood complete. She taught and showed me things that I didn't even know were possible. She just ended up changing me in the best way. I love her and wouldn't trade her for the world.