Watch Valmarcus & Charlie's story - a beautiful story of how the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program changed these two lives forever.
To read real stories of real people who have been impacted through our mentoring programs and services. Click on their names to read how mentoring is making a BIG difference in their lives.
Little Brothers Marvin and Marcel & Big Brother James
James Ingram is matched with two brothers Marvin and Marcel. James attends Messiah Missionary Baptist Church and is involved in the Men’s Ministry. This is the same church Marvin and Marcel attend. James learned they were in need of a Big Brother at an African American male conference and contacted this social worker requesting to be matched to both boys. The boys and their mother were very excited that Mr. Ingram had an interest in being involved with them both.
In 2013 Marvin wrote a letter to the program manager expressing his gratitude for his Big Brother, Mr. James Ingram. He stated that he was sending the letter to thank him for the BBBS Program that he and his brother are a part of. He shared that they have been in the program for 6 years and that Mr. James has been a wonderful person in their lives. He has supported them in so many ways such as dinners, sporting events, movies, church, and just hanging out.
He stated that “without a real father to support us in the ways that would help us to understand what is expected of us to grow into young men, we thank Mr. Ingram for all he does in spending time with us.” He shared that they are very blessed to have a great man there for them. He has stated on several occasions that with their dad and adult brother being in prison, he can stand up as a young African American man due to the guidance and support he has received from Mr. James Ingram. “He has role modeled very positive encouragement and confidence that has truly made a difference in my two son’s life” their mom replied at a church conference to support mentors for African American male youth of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church.
Little Brother Antonio & Big Brother Marshall
The following is a letter which was sent by Antonio’s great grandmother to the staff at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi Program:
Dear Big Brothers Big Sisters Staff,
I am writing this letter in reference to Mr. Booker. He is the Big Brother for my great grandson, Antonio. Words cannot express my appreciation and gratitude for all that he has done and is doing for him. He has inspired and encouraged Antonio to be a better person. I have seen the change in his behavior, attitude and grades in school.
Mr. Booker is very dedicated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program both emotionally and physically. He is a very thoughtful, caring, understanding, kind and sincere person. He has shown an endless and profound love for Antonio and my family. Mr. Booker and his family have touched our lives with kindness in ways they may not be aware of.
Many thanks to Mr. Booker for the outstanding job he is doing with Antonio and the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.
Antonio's Great Grandmother
Sisters In Support Ana & Claire
Hi, my name is Ana, and this is my story:
I am 18 years old and I have two children. My daughter, Maria, is five years old and has special needs. My son, James, is a typical busy three-year-old boy. Believe me, I really had my hands full! I was spending so much time helping Maria that James was acting up to get my attention. I didn’t know where to turn.
Then I heard about the Sisters In Support Program offered through D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s. I called and talked with Miss Stephanie, who runs the program. We got to know each other, and eventually she introduced me to Claire, a woman who was interested in being my mentor.
Claire and I hit it off from the start! We have become very good friends. She has also shared some of her skills as a parent. Claire takes me and my children to the library and the park. My kids really enjoy it. I do too! Maria and James get plenty attention between the two of us.
Recently, Claire did something very special for me. She had a friend who had a beautiful dress which she was no longer using. Claire had it altered to fit me. Then, she invited me to a wonderful dinner party, and I was the honored guest! I felt so special. My children and I don’t know what we would do without Claire. We love her like family.
Little Sister Malikah & Big Sister Amy
Hi, my name is Amy, and this is my story:
When I was only 4 weeks old, I was adopted through D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s and raised here in Grand Rapids. I had a good childhood, but my mother died of cancer when I was only 17 years old and 4 years later, my father died of a heart attack. At age 21, and with no immediate family, I had much to give and a wide open heart.
About that time, I heard about the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program offered through the agency. There was something about the words “Big Sister” that spoke to me. After connecting with a social worker, I learned about a 9 year old girl named Malikah who was losing her mother to a terminal illness.
I immediately knew we were a match and I signed on as Malikah’s Big Sister. I saw a little girl, overwhelmed with the prospect of losing her mother, without anyone with whom she could share her feelings. I knew how she felt from my own life experiences. She ended up opening new windows in my world and I opened new doors in hers.
Twenty-five years later, Malikah and I still see each other. To us, we’ll ALWAYS be sisters. She knows my son and I know her children. Together, we share a life journey, a faith and a hope that has enriched both of our lives beyond measure.
Little Sister Kim & Big Sister Vicki
Vicki takes me to fun places, like the beach and bike riding. I like going to plays with her. My favorite was Little Women. We went ice skating for the first time since I can remember. We went roller skating, too.
We talk about what happened in the week. She always asks, ‘How was your week? How was school?’
“If someone wanted to be a Big Sister, they should ask how things are going. If kids are little and shy, just keep talking and it will get better. “
Vicki is married with two grown sons. She works part-time as a bookkeeper.
“I thought about this for a number of years. As my sons left home, I realized I still wanted to interact with kids. I wanted to develop a relationship with one child. My social worker searched for a child that fit me. She didn’t put my name in a hat.
Kim lost her mom to cancer when she was six and is an only child. He dad is raising her alone. I feel like I support him, too. Sometimes he asks my advice and I’m happy to help if I can.
Being Kim’s Big Sister gets me out doing fun things I’d never do otherwise, like riding bikes and ice skating. I enjoy doing ‘girl things’ with her.
It’s so tough for families these days. If you can, make a child a priority. Big Brothers Big Sisters is really important.”
Little Brother Jason & Big Brother Matt
Mr. E. takes me to his house. We go skateboarding on his street sometimes. He has three sons that I hang out with. I’m the youngest at my house, but at his house, I’m the oldest brother.
He has a trampoline we play on. He took me to a Whitecaps game. He’s teaching me to play guitar.
He’s a good Big Brother because he wants to spend time and he likes to skateboard. I think Mr. E. likes being a Big Brother because he’s nice to me. He bought me a new shirt.”
Matt, or “Mr. E” is a math aid in the Forest Hills Schools. He met Jason in one of his classes and arranged with D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s to become his Big Brother. They have been matched for 10 months. He is married and has three young sons.
“I felt he needed a male role model. The expression on his face when I go to pick him up is just priceless.
At first, I thought I needed to entertain him every week, but I found that what he loves the most is coming over to my house and just hanging out with our family. The last time I visited him, I took my four-year-old son who was eyeing Jason’s matchbox cars. Jason immediately offered to share them. He’s just an adorable kid who wants so much to be part of a family.
I’m glad I decided to become a Big Brother. I feel I’m helping change someone’s future. That’s pretty important.”
Sisters In Support Paige & Amanda
Paige was 15 years old and six months pregnant when her high school counselor referred her to Sisters in Support. Paige was quickly matched to Amanda, a young single woman in her twenties. Paige and Amanda spent time together each week enjoying food and watching movies. They often texted between visits. Amanda, an experienced nanny, helped Paige prepare for parenting a newborn.
When Paige’s daughter Lola was born, Amanda was one of the first to hear the good news. Amanda, who has a considerable experience as a photographer, has carefully documented the first three months of Lola’s life. Paige shows off the pictures to anyone willing to sit down with her in front of the computer screen.
Not everything has been easy for Paige. She is still trying to navigate a complicated relationship with the father of her baby. She is also trying to manage school part-time work while parenting an infant. Amanda gives Paige advice about healthy relationships and managing her time.
Recently, Paige and Amanda, along with four other matched clients and volunteers, attended a four-session cooking class held on the D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s campus. Amanda and the other volunteers took care of the children while Paige and the other young moms learned to cook healthful, delicious meals. The whole group ate supper family style while sharing stories about their lives. Strong bonds were built among the participants.
When asked about her relationship with Amanda, Paige smiles and says, “She is my best friend in the whole world.”
Little Brother Marc & Big Brother Jim
Jim has a lot of energy! We go to Griffins games, kayaking, biking, and baseball games. He got me into Boy Scouts, too. Sometimes I just come over to the house and do stuff with his family.
His grandson is like a little brother to me. Jim gives me good advice. He says, ‘Be logical. Think about the outcome first.’ He helped me a lot with a teacher I didn’t like. He taught me that if you feel you’re being wronged, pretend you’re in the other person’s position and try to understand them. That helps.”
Jim is married with three grown children and a grandson. He is President of Siegel Jewelers, and an active member of Rotary and Temple Emanuel.
“I met Marc four years ago when he was living in the foster home with one of my previous Little Brothers who was older. We started including Marc in our activities and eventually made it official. I include Marc in things I like to do and would do anyway. I enjoy sporting events and cooking, and so he’s developing some of those interests. He’s willing to try new things.
My wife and I include him in family activities. The other night, we played Monopoly with my grandson. He came to two family reunions with us last summer. I’ve been taking him when I visit my parents. He’s seeing how a family works. I see so much potential in him. A friend of mine gave him a volunteer job this summer at a day camp for kids with disabilities.He did a good job. He appreciates these opportunities.