Through moving, a pandemic, shifting family dynamics, and uncertain times, Big Holly and Little Samantha built a friendship that continues to this day. Matched when Samantha was just 11, this Big and Little stayed together through Samantha’s high school graduation! In the 7 years they were formally matched, they created countless memories and formed a strong bond through their mentoring relationship.
After being a camp counselor, Holly knew she had a passion for working with kids, and she wanted to make a positive impact. When Holly discovered Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, she knew this was the perfect program for her. With a schedule that was unpredictable, Holly loved that BBBSU provided the flexibility she needed when it came to volunteering.
While getting to know each other, Big Holly and Little Samantha shared new experiences and many laughs. Samantha said, “There are plenty of times that I think of that always bring a smile to my face. There was this one time that we made stove-top dumplings and it overflowed and cooked the food on the stovetop and made a giant mess.” Holly enjoyed it when they could do something active, but still had time to talk. “During the pandemic, we would go on a lot of bike rides and explore her neighborhood. Then we also got very into rock climbing, and it was really fun to see her advance as a climber and become a part of that community,” said Holly.
Being matched for so many years, you not only get to know your Big or Little, but also get to watch them grow and help them through the changes in their life. “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing [Samantha] grow from a little kid into adulthood. She’s always been reliable, but I’ve seen her become more confident and independent as the years have gone on,” said Holly. During their match, Holly started a family and had her first baby. Samantha was worried that once Holly had a child, she wouldn’t have time to be her Big anymore. Holly reassured Samantha that they would continue their match and now their relationship is stronger than ever. Samantha became close with Holly’s family and looks forward to being a Big Sister figure in her daughter’s life as she grows up.
Holly and Samantha have experienced new and unexpected challenges throughout their relationship, but always found they could rely on each other to help get them through. Holly said, “Having this match as a reliable source of mutual support has always provided a sense of relief and assurance.”
Holly says about her Little, “She is one of the kindest humans I have ever met – she will pet every dog, picks up garbage at parks, and compliments strangers regularly. Her kindness is contagious – you see the impact it has on those who surround her, and you want to follow her example. She will try anything, no matter how weird the food or how physical the activity. She is a wonderful team player and collaborator. She truly values friendship and expects the same of those who surround her.”
Samantha’s feelings about their match are just as heartwarming, saying, “I would start off saying that Holly is the best big sister ever and that she is amazing and always there for me, but that doesn’t even cover a fourth of what Holly is to me. After all these years with Holly, I’m still speechless on how much we have grown and how important she has become to me. She had pushed me to work hard and accomplish things I never would have thought I could.”
Holly and Samantha have continued their relationship outside of the BBBSU program and plan to remain close. The amazing part of having a Big or a Little is that sometimes what begins as a mentorship turns into a lifelong friendship.
If you are looking to volunteer in Utah, mentorship opportunities are available. Apply to become a mentor and make a lasting impact on the life of a Little by visiting https://bbbsu.org/be-a-mentor/.