After my divorce in 1988 at the age of 55, I joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and was matched with my “Little,” Holly, when she was only 8 years old. She was from a single parent family as her father had died at a young age. She had difficulty making friends with children her own age, but we clicked right off the bat. It did take a little time, though, for us to further adjust to each other.
I remember taking her to a Big Sisters/Little Sisters Halloween party one year early in our match, and they had a well-known actress attend. We went up to get her autograph and Holly announced that she, too, wanted to be an actress someday. I didn’t want to discourage her, but I didn’t see how that was possible because Holly had a speech impediment.
That summer her mother sent her to speech class, and later in the year she appeared in a skit which was taken from “I Remember Mama.” I attended and it seemed that all the other children were just parroting their lines. Not Holly! She really got into her role and played her part to the hilt without any speech impediment at all. Believe me, tears were streaming down my cheeks.
The next big hurdle was when she was in high school and she told me she wanted to be a volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo. In order to be a guide at the zoo and answer people’s questions about the animals, she had to take some college classes. Since she had been in a Special Ed class when I first met her, I wasn’t sure if she could pass the final exams, but she passed with flying colors.
I also attended her high school graduation where she graduated with highest honors. I was so proud of her. Next she enrolled in college. During that time I was asked to be a guest speaker at a Big Sisters/Little Sisters fundraiser one year. I told of my experiences with Holly and afterward some people came up to me and told me how my story had moved them to tears.
Today, Holly is in her early 30s and we are still friends. She not only finished college, but went on to get her Master’s Degree and works as a social worker helping other people. She has always been like one of my family to me. I am glad to report that she finally met the love of her life and they are very happy together and are planning on getting married.
I like happy endings, don’t you?
I was probably motivated to do this mentoring because I was raised in a Children’s Home from 1938 to 1945, from the age of 5 to 12. It has made my life, and Holly’s, better overall.