'She's my best friend'

Big Brothers, Big Sisters give local teens mentors

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As the teenager’s relationship with her Big Sister grew, her mother saw the changes.

Mariah was excited and antsy to see her Big Sister, Ingrid. Even in the pandemic when getting together was hard; Mariah looked forward to the Zoom meetings when the pair would bake cheesecakes and cake. Their bond strengthened.

Ingrid and Mariah have been paired in Foundation for Youth’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters program for about a year and half. In that time, Mariah has had a wonderful influence in her life, said Amanda, Mariah’s mother.

“She is more confident, she is happy,” said Amanda. “I think having someone in your life you can trust and confide is challenging and she has that.”

Big Brothers, Big Sisters-Bartholomew County is one of dozens of programs United Way of Bartholomew County helps support with the annual campaign. Money given in the campaign helps students like Mariah have another mentor in their life during a tough, transitional time from child to adult.

“She’s my best friend,” Mariah said. “I can talk to her and trust her with it.”

Ingrid signed up to be a Big Sister because of her passion for youth development. She met Mariah and they clicked immediately, Ingrid said.

The Big Sister remembers how hard being a teen was; even with strong support systems in place, and thought she could help.

“Youth development is so near and dear to me, there is so much untapped potential in the youth of our community,” Ingrid said. “Even with having everything, it is still a tough period to go through,” Ingrid said.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters-Bartholomew County had 133 matches in 2020 and offers resources to children and teens who are still waiting to be matched with their Big Brother or Big Sister.

Ingrid expected she might change a teen’s life when she signed up to be a Big Sister. She didn’t anticipate how her life might change.

“I love watching Mariah grow into the amazing young woman she is becoming,” Ingrid said. “I got more from the program than I ever expected to get." 

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