Sometimes the path to a great relationship takes twists and turns. Valory Myers, BBBSCI Board Member and Big Sister, shares how her path has created an even stronger bond with her Little Sister.
Why did you decide to be a Big Sister?
I’m the middle sister to a younger sister and an older sister. I’ve always admired my older sister, while I mentored my younger sister. We all did this. I wanted to take what I have learned from my relationships with my sisters and provide that to someone who may not have what I was fortunate enough to have.
I’ve done lots of volunteering for one-off activities, events, and youth services programs. Those were all fulfilling, but through those experiences, I learned I really wanted to develop a stronger relationship with someone over time. I felt that serving as a Big Sister was an opportunity to blend what I learned from my sibling relationships with what I desired in a volunteer outlet to help a young woman with their goals in life.
I also had the thought, “If I don’t do it, who will?” I knew I would make a good mentor to someone.
What were some of the ways you introduced this desire to be that person for your Little Sister?
I brought her to work with me one day to help her see what my job looks like. Being in a professional setting, with lots of meetings and collaborating with others, was eye opening for her.
In what ways was it eye-opening?
My Little likes to be creative, likes to talk to her friends; the type of things you do when you’re in your early teenage years. She saw how much fun I was having and we discussed how some of those things she loves to do are actually skills she can build upon and use in her career. I think she’s looking forward to the white boarding sessions most.
I love those too, can’t blame her. What was boring?
Well, let’s face it; some of the meetings are boring. It’s a different kind of work that relates to a different kind of boring, though. She saw that the daily operations shift depending on what’s needed for a client, or how the trends in the market change our focus. It was a whole new world for her.
Did she go into the experience with any expectations?
Yes. I think she thought my job was like The Office. She now knows that’s not exactly how work goes!
Any surprises come out of the day?
She was pleasantly surprised that she could be creative. This particular part really helped her to start thinking about her own career opportunities. She can translate that love of creativity into her work in lots of fields and in lots of ways. We talked about this a lot because she’s looking ahead to college right now.
Ah, how is that going?
Well, BBBSCI actually started helping us think about that topic. We participated in a program where we made t-shirts for a fundraiser at IUPUI. She met some of the students who attended the school and realized she was on a college campus for the first time in her life. This was another eye opening moment for us to share. She thought the kids were cool, the school was cool, the idea of living at a school was cool – it all really came together for her.
Is she working on a plan to attend college?
Yes, we are. She will be the first in her family to attend college so this is a big deal for her. She has shared her aspirations with her family and I plan to take her, and her aunt, on college tours so her aunt can get an understanding of the process too. When she is a junior, we will take advantage of the college tour opportunities that BBBSCI offers. We’ve gone to the library and already started on the 21st Century Scholars program. We’re working on aligning the stars.
What’s her next year look like?
Right now, we’ve shifted gears a bit. She got into some trouble at school and it’s been a strain on our relationship as we saw each other weekly for three and a half years. Now, we’ve mainly been keeping in touch via phone calls.
How has this changed your relationship?
It’s strengthened it! I’ve had people ask me if this ended our relationship and that’s been an odd question for me to answer. The simple answer is no; absolutely not. You wouldn’t just stop seeing your child because they needed additional support during a difficult time in their life and I don’t see this relationship as any different. Our relationship is very strong.
What advice do you have for others who are considering becoming a Big?
It’s the most rewarding experience volunteering that I’ve ever had. You can really see the difference you’re making in someone’s life, and in my case, we’re having an impact on her whole family. I look forward to helping her get through this phase of her life, get into college and take our memories into her next relationships in life.
As Chief Marketing Officer for Apparatus Infrastructure Services, a Virtusa Company, Raquel leads the company’s marketing strategy and initiatives. Prior to joining Apparatus, Raquel spent 13 years running Silver Square, a full-service marketing firm she founded. Raquel serves on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana and the Metropolitan Indianapolis Public Broadcasting Board.