|Match Spotlight: Shyla and Ashley|
Little Sister Shyla and Big Sister Ashley celebrated their three-year match anniversary this past January. They are part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa’s (BBBSCI) Community-Based Mentoring Program. Ashley’s involvement with BBBSCI began after she relocated to Des Moines.
“I thought it would be a great way to experience new things with a kiddo who maybe wouldn’t normally get to do that. I had also moved from working in a school with students who had benefitted from the program and felt it was time to help another child benefit as well,” Ashley explained.
Ashley’s experience as a Big has been really fun and rewarding.
“I have seen Shyla grow so much over the three years we have been matched. She has gone from a relatively shy fifth-grader to an outgoing and funny 8th grader,” Ashley said.
Through the Community-Based Mentoring Program, Shyla and Ashley meet one-on-one for at least four hours each month. During their one-on-one time, Shyla and Ashley engage in a variety of activities together. Some of their favorite outings have included attending plays at the Des Moines Playhouse, going out to eat at restaurants, playing games, watching movies, making crafts, walking at Gray’s Lake and hanging out at local book stores. Shyla’s number one favorite outing with Ashely is when they go roller skating at Skate South and go out to eat. These experiences have helped Ashley and Shyla grow and strengthen their friendship.
“Shyla has challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and do activities I probably wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t been matched,” Ashley said.
One of Shyla’s favorite parts about being matched with Ashley is the talks they have together about things like how school is going.
“They help you pass the time by doing fun things with you. It feels like she is already part of my family,” Shyla said.
Ashley has seen Shyla’s passion for art flourish, especially her talent in drawing.
“Her skills have grown so much and it’s exciting to see what new things she has created every time I see her. She has always been a kind and giving person but as she has grown I have seen her become more outgoing and outspoken, she isn’t afraid to share her opinion. It’s great!” Ashley said.
Ashley encourages anyone looking for a fun and rewarding way to give back to their community to become a Big.
“It is great to have staff from BBBSCI checking in to make sure our match is continuing smoothly and offering any help or advice if I need it,” said Ashley.
Shyla’s parents, Cynthia and Robert, have relished in watching Shyla and Ashley’s bond grow over time.
“We have been pleased from the start with the match between Ms. Ashley and Shyla. Shyla is always excited for the next outing with her Big. Their bond has grown and we feel it’s incredible. We love that she (Ashley) makes herself lovingly available to join our family gatherings and events that concern Shyla. Ms. Ashley’s forethought as to what she feels Shyla needs or would like (due to their conversations) shows in the choice of outings and some of the conversations Shyla will want to share with us. I am prayerful that their bond will continue long after the program ages Shyla out,” said Robert and Cynthia.
Learn more about how you can become a Big and empower youth in our community by contacting Volunteer Enrollment Coordinator Shayna Bell at email@example.com or 515-288-9025 x227.