Waiting to be Matched - The Impact
Kids process time differently than
adults do, especially when they are waiting for something special. For kids
wanting a mentor, a friend, or someone to help them, being on a waiting list
can feel like it takes forever.
“Waiting to be matched with a Big
Brother or Sister can seem like it takes a long time,” said Adriana Adams, BBBS
Customer Relations Supervisor. “And they take it personally. Kids think
‘There’s something about me that means I can’t get a mentor.’ Parents are
more understanding and have better perspective.”
Though they’re understanding, however,
waiting is hard on parents as well. “We have parents
who are looking for help, who are going through a hard time,” said Adriana.
“And they have nowhere else to go. It is really hard to have to tell them that
we can’t match their child right away.”
“People will call and tell us stories
that show just how much their child needs a Big,” said Ellen Harsch, Enrollment
Supervisor. “For example, a mom will say, ‘My child is having a real hard time
in school and getting into trouble,’ or ‘My child has been getting into fights
since his dad went to jail,’ or ‘My child seems lonely since his dad died.’
Sometimes it can be one hard story after another. And everyone who calls
deserves a Big. The family may be going through something that is so hard for
them, and one way we can support and help them is to provide a friend, but it’s
not something we can just snap our fingers and do immediately because the
demand exceeds our staff capacity.”
BBBS’ staff members let parents and
children know about the expectations for getting matched, but that doesn’t
always make it any easier for families, or for staff, when children are put on
the waiting list. “It’s always hard and sad to say ‘No.’ And it’s hard on us as
staff because we know how much good a mentor can do,” Ellen continued. “We know
that if we could get these kiddos matched we could really make a difference in
impacting their lives in a positive way.”
The kids waiting to be matched know
that having a mentor can be positive too, as their comments reveal. “One Little
Brother said that he wants a mentor because he wants someone he can hang out
with and talk to,” said Christina Eisenlord, Enrollment Specialist. “Another
Little is the oldest child in his family with a lot of responsibility and he
needs some space away from the chaos within the house.”
“One Little Sister is super excited
about the possibility of getting a Big Sister because she says she really needs
help in school,” Christina continued.
For some of the kids on the waiting
list it’s about the companionship of having an adult friend. “One Little Sister
hopes to get a Big Sister because she doesn’t want to be lonely,” Christina
added. “Her mother has breast cancer and she really wants someone to talk to.
She wants more than just fun activities because she’s struggling with what is
going on with her mom.”
As new matches get started, it’s
exciting to imagine what their futures might hold.
“Once a match begins there’s so much
good that can come from it. We see that over and over as Bigs, Littles, and
family members move through life events together. While the wait can be a
challenge, the benefits, opportunities and relationships that come from being
matched can truly last a lifetime,” Ellen said.
Big Brother Chris agreed. “When we
first got matched, Keon was a little shy,” he said about his Little Brother
Keontray. “He’d talk about his day and I’d ask him all sorts of questions about
his life and he’d share if he wanted to.”
“The wait to be matched with Keon was
definitely worth it. Since Day One, seeing Keon once a week is the highlight of
my week, every single week. The best part is that Keon adds just as much to my
life as I do his. He inspires me to be a better person, and to keep pushing through
school and work and life. He’s a brilliant kid and I believe in him 100%. I’d
do anything for him and his family on any day.”
Is being on the waiting list hard?
Is it worth the wait? Absolutely!