Big Brothers Big Sisters partnered with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to create the Military Mentoring Program for children in military families.
"Children with caregivers in the military often face exceptional challenges, including separation, instability, loss and resulting poor academics," said Michelle Hedrich, executive director of Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters (RBBBS).
Tina and Keturah
Big Sister Tina Butler and Little Sister Keturah have been matched in the Military Mentoring Program for more than one year.
"Little Sister Keturah's father was active duty Army when he was killed in a motorcycle accident," Hedrich said. "Keturah was very young when the accident occurred."
"Keturah never talks about her dad when we're out," Butler said. "She talks about what we are doing and what the plans are for the next time we meet up. We also talk about school, her grades and the books she is reading."
Drawn by Her Heart
Big Sister Tina Butler has been an educator for more than 15 years, has three sons and is involved with her nieces and nephews. She says it was her heart that drew her to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. "I wanted to be a mentor because it would make a difference in a child's life."
Mentors in the Military Mentoring Program do not need military experience. As with all matches, the staff at RBBBS makes them based on many factors, including personalities, interests, scheduling and requests.
"Tina exceeds her role as mentor and friend to Keturah, by listening to any concerns Keturah has and offering her sound advice," Hedrich said. "She is dedicated and committed to making a positive impact in Little Sister Keturah's life."
We Make a Good Team
"I really enjoy having a Little Sister who appreciates the small things in life," Butler said. "It doesn't take much to please Keturah. She reminds me so much of myself when I was growing up. I think that's why we make such a good team."
Butler and Keturah enjoy baking cookies, making homemade ice cream, and creating bracelets and other craft projects. Little Sister Keturah also helps her Big Sister prepare for class activities.
Keturah is an avid soccer player. Butler attends her practices and games. She also helped Keturah sell $600 worth of Girl Scout cookies this year, surpassing Keturah's goal. "My goal is to help Keturah succeed in whatever she does, because I believe in her success," Butler said.
"My boys love what I am doing," Butler said. "They like little Ms. Keturah, and say I finally got the daughter I always wanted." Keturah and Butler's youngest son had a gingerbread house competition. "Of course, Keturah won," she laughed.
"By providing children in military families another trusted adult in their lives, Big Brothers Big Sisters can serve those who serve our country." - Michelle Hedrich
An Empowering Experience
"I am very grateful and blessed that Keturah was placed in my life," said Butler. "This past year has been an incredible experience for me. I recommend mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters to everyone, because it is an empowering experience for mentors and mentees."
Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to have a mentoring model to assist in the personal development of children in military families. "By offering children new opportunities and experiences and another trusted adult in their lives, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves those who serve and have served our country," Hedrich said.
For more information about Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit their website or call 540-371-7444.
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This article is fourth in a yearlong series on Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters, written by Susan Larson for Fredericksburg Parent and Family. The previous articles are:
April 2015 - Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Relationships are Changing Lives Part 2 (Big Brother Gerald Fennemore and Little Brother Aaron)
March 2015 – Mentoring Relationships are Changing Lives (Big Sister Sally Cooney Anderson and Little Brother Chima)
February 2015 – Giving and Receiving Through Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters (Big Sister Nicole Frazier and Little Sister Jasmine)
Susan Larson is the publisher of Fredericksburg Today online news and a contributing writer for Fredericksburg Parent and Family.