As an adult, Michelle says she realizes there was a gap in her childhood growing up – She lacked having a mentor outside her immediate family. Michelle felt that having a female mentor could have benefitted her greatly, and this is ultimately what inspired Michelle to apply to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. For three years, Michelle has been matched with her Little Aaliyah.
Michelle says mentoring has been an eye-opener, as she previously was not used to being in the company in a younger person, nevertheless being a role model. Michelle and Aaliyah meet every week or every two weeks, and during this time Michelle ensures she is a listening ear for Aaliyah. Being a consistent mentor is important to Michelle because she wants to be a positive example for Aaliyah, showing her what proper communication is, how to be a good listener, and what being a good role model looks like.
Of course, the pair love to have their share of fun. Michelle and Aaliyah’s relationship is playful and sisterly. They have a good dynamic where Aaliyah is able to tell Michelle anything. Some of the activities they enjoy doing are rollerblading, baking cookies, gymnastics, boxing, and hanging out with Michelle’s dog.
Michelle has seen Aaliyah blossom into her own person, discovering what she likes and becoming more confident in herself. She would describe Aaliyah as a “very kind soul,” someone who is very giving, responsible, curious and an overall joy to be around.
Giving back is very important to Michelle – “Volunteering makes me happier,” she says. The experience has been eye-opening and has helped her understand people more. Her advice to anyone wanting to volunteer is to “be open-minded and let your Little guide you to where things can go. Have fun, volunteering doesn’t have to be so serious!”