“It has been a beautiful friendship that I will treasure forever.”

Big Sister Adrienne Evans was matched with Little Sister Pearl in 2010. As they prepare to graduate from the BBBSCI program this year, Adrienne wrote the following on what it’s been like being a part of Pearl’s life these past 10 years.

Back in 2010 – after graduating from Purdue University, I heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) through a friend at work.

At the ripe age of 22, I figured getting involved in the program would be a good way to give back outside of my 9 to 5 job. What I didn’t realize then, that I certainly do now is how much more the BBBS program gave back to me.

Pearl in 2010 at her interview to be a Little

Before meeting my Little, I went through the necessary steps to becoming a Big Sister. I remember speaking with my Match Support Specialist after my interview and was told that I would be matched with Pearl, an 8-year-old girl from Indianapolis. We would get to start hanging out right away, but before that, I would need to meet Pearl and her family and come to her house to chat.  

I remember the very first day I pulled up to Pearl’s house. I vividly remember sitting outside her front doorstep and Tish, her mom, told me to come right on in. From the first time she met me, it was clear that I would always be welcomed with open arms. Pearl, on the other hand, was a little shy at the time –  and it was clear that I would have to prove to be trustworthy… she wasn’t going to let me right in. ?

Adrienne (left) and Pearl (right)

We built a great deal of trust through our relationship that has lasted for over 10 years. I have always felt like I have had a seat at their families’ table; and she has surely had a seat at mine.

Back in the day, when Pearl was a lot shorter than me (believe it or not!), we made important dates on almost a weekly basis. Since I worked downtown, it was really easy for the two of us to hang right when she got out of school and I was off of work.

In elementary school specifically, we made sure to spend at least some of our time working on life lessons, like how to make our dollar go the furthest. Therefore, more often than not, we ended up at McDonalds. It was our spot. Pearl and I always got the same thing; and although she had few words to say, her actions spoke louder than words because she always gave me the pickles from her cheeseburger.

Pearl wasn’t sure how long I’d stay around – so I don’t think she initially wanted to open up much. Eventually though – as time passed, we got to a place where she would answer my questions with words other than ‘good.’ And after about Year 3, as she became older, wiser, and taller than me, she had some questions for me (which I was not necessarily prepared to answer at the time!)

The good news is we made it from elementary school to middle school! As Pearl started middle school, I remember being super relieved when she said she was not into boys. Pearl was interested in getting good grades, helping her mom out, and having fun with her sisters.

As the years went on, we tried to do as much as we could together whenever we had the chance – we did it all! We ran a 5K together, painted each other’s nails, worked on homework, set goals for the year, ran errands together, attended Game Nights at BBBS, went to Pacers Games, shows at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, attended family parties, and more.

One of Pearl’s favorite things to do is hang at my housw, just making dinner together, catching up, and maybe watching a show. She has always been such a good little helper – without being asked – and is always eager to jump in to lend a hand. I can’t help but laugh wondering why she liked cooking at my house so much – especially because the smoke alarm literally always went off when I would make something (which is why we stuck to McDonalds in the early days.)

Aside from smoke alarms going off – and us laughing through it, after each year together as a match, we both had to agree and share with our Match Support Specialist that we wanted to be matched again.  I’m so glad that we both continued to say yes.  

Over the past couple of years especially, Pearl and I have become a part of each other’s families. We have spent holidays together; including Easter, Thanksgiving, and our birthdays that are just two days apart. Pearl’s sisters often accompany her to my family gatherings so we get to know the Three Musketeers in a whole new way. My entire extended family has come to know and love Pearl and her sisters and are always so happy when they join us.

Most recently, Pearl entered high school– it felt so weird, truly like my baby had grown up! As soon as she entered high school, I had a crisis in my head – all of a sudden, I re-thought all of the words that I used and how I used them. I constantly questioned if what I was saying was cool enough and always wondered if I was saying the right thing.   

When I married my husband Austin – I was excited for him to get to know Pearl and he of course embraced Pearl as his own! He really had no choice, as it was clear to see that Pearl and I were a package deal. Austin is certainly what we would call a Question Master and he didn’t put that name to rest when Pearl entered onto the scene. He is specifically inquisitive about the boys in Pearl’s life and continues to ask entirely too many questions about – what it means to be “talking”, asking her “have you ever actually talked on the phone”, “do your parents know about this,” and so on and so forth. (So sorry about this, Pearl Girl).

Over the years, we haven’t always shared in joys together; but sorrows too, in both of our lives. We literally watched each other grow up. And it has been a beautiful friendship that I will treasure forever.

Pearl Girl – I am so so proud of the woman you are becoming, and I am excited for our friendship to continue for many years to come. You might have thought that you would get rid of me at your Graduation Ceremony, but the truth is, we’ve only just begun.

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