Outside of school, Cheyenne and his sister Audrie spent a lot of their time at home. Their closest friends were their cousins. Harlietta, raising two children as a single mother, wanted her teenage son Cheyenne to have a positive male influence in his life and wanted her shy daughter Audrie to come out of her shell.
This sounded like a perfect job for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been operating under the belief that every child has the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Harlietta worked with a Big Brothers Big Sisters match support specialist to find the perfect matches for both of her children.
“Exposing them to new people was one of my biggest motivators. I wanted them to see how people interact outside of the family,” Harlietta said.
What she found was a Big Brother and a Big Sister who were going to teach her kids that work is the best course to self-worth and confidence. Cheyenne and Audrie both play instruments: cello and violin. Cheyenne plays basketball and is a martial artist. Audrie loves to draw and paint. They are totally different kids but want the same thing.
Finally the day came for the pairing of the “Bigs” and “Littles.” Audrie got her big right away and enjoyed every minute of it, but Cheyenne, on the other hand, had to wait a little longer to get his big.
“I saw how much fun Audrie and her Big Sister had every time they were together, I wanted that too,” Cheyenne said. “Once I was paired with Scott, I started to enjoy the same things.”
Since the pairing of these two, Cheyenne is getting better grades in school and getting out more even being shy and reserved.
“He always says to get out and start the day off as a good one, not a bad one,” Cheyenne said.
When Cheyenne got involved in the organization, he had no clue what was in store for him and now he’s getting experiences that he would have never gotten if it weren’t for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The most memorable outing he’s been on was an afternoon of rock climbing with Scott.
“Scott had done it before, so I wanted to try it out. Audrie and I used to be indoors all the time, but now I’m getting outside, and I like that,” Cheyenne said.
The children’s mother said she has noticed her children change dramatically since getting paired with their Bigs.
“They see what their Big Brother and Big Sister do, and they want to emulate that, like doing well academically and volunteering to help others in their community,” Harlietta said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is in Nodaway County and reaches hundreds of children each year by giving them the things as you’ve read above. Cheyenne wanted to tell other children who might be nervous in joining Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“Having a Big Brother is fun, and it’s great to spend time with someone else rather than by yourself. Scott gives me one-on-one experiences instead of a whole bunch of people who don’t have time to get to know me,” Cheyenne said.
According to staff at the Nodaway County Big Brothers Big Sisters, their mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Lynette Harbin, program director for Nodaway County Big Brothers Big Sisters said the process for pairing Bigs and Littles is a very complex process and takes a lot of work to go into the pairs.
“Before we make a match, we do our homework. After someone expresses an interest in becoming a Big, they go through a background check and careful interview process,” Harbin said. “Then we match Bigs and Littles based on location, personalities and preferences. And we provide full support from the start, so matches can grow into lasting, impactful friendships. The entire matching process is made possible through donations.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters, nationwide works with 330 communities. The local chapters work with their colleagues across the nation to design and develop programs specific to their needs with their individual chapter.
Harbin said after doing research and doing surveys nationwide they have received some pretty big statistics.
“Our kids are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol, and 52 percent less likely to skip school. That’s not too bad for a volunteer organization,” Harbin said.
For people who are interested in becoming a Big, there is a process online tto complete, and then the volunteering begins.
“We are constantly searching for Bigs, because our Littles numbers just keep growing and we can’t keep up with the pairing,” Harbin said. “It’s really simple to join you just fill out an application online, get a reference, participate in an interview, and go through a background check. Once all of that goes through we get you paired in no time.”
One Northwest student said she volunteered to be a Big just because of her love for children, and the passion to help others.
“I just have had a passion for kids, and I think it’s very important to establish relationships with them,” said Abby Gerdts, a senior at Northwest Missouri State University from Smithville. “I was always surrounded by kids, but I was up here in college and really didn’t have that.”
Harbin said she wants everyone in our are to know about them because children are waiting so patiently to receive a big and get that role model they have always wanted.