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Ajaea was 6 years old when her mother died. Her father was in jail at the time. Her grandmother became her caregiver, and soon contacted Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters (RBBBS).

"Ajaea's grandmother realized the need for an additional positive influence and role model in Ajaea's life," says Regina Price, RBBBS match advocate and enrollment specialist. "This sweet, timid and shy young girl was experiencing anxiety and depression." A Big Sister has helped change that.

A Significant Contribution

"The support and encouragement of Big Sister Shari has made a significant contribution to Ajaea's life," Price says.

Big Sister Shari and Little Sister Ajaea have now been together for eight years.

"Shari has observed her Little Sister blossom into a healthy, happy, independent, courageous, intelligent, talented, gifted and outgoing young lady," shares Price.

Time Flies

"Ajaea will enter high school in the fall of 2015, and I can't believe it," Shari says. "I can remember one of our very first outings, when we went to see 'Jack and the Giant' at Riverside Theater. We also visited the pet store often.

When we applied for Ajaea's first library card, she was so excited to play on the computer and read books."

Nowadays, Ajaea's greatest passions are music and art. Ajaea is a member of the Fredericksburg Corps Salvation Army band, where she's played trumpet, coronet, piano and now the drums. "Ajaea has a knack for art and finds it to be a therapeutic expression of her thoughts and feelings," Price says. She also writes poems in her spare time.

A Determined Young Lady

"Ajaea is a determined young lady," her grandmother says. "She doesn't give up and she proves to herself and others that she can accomplish whatever task she puts her mind to."

"Ajaea's grandmother told me she couldn't imagine life without Shari," says Price. "Shari's initial one-year commitment has developed into a lifetime relationship that will continue to shape and pave the way for Ajaea's successful future."

When asked about her plans, Ajaea said she'd like to become a teacher so she can give to other children the positive experiences she's had growing up as a Little Sister.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters by visiting the website at or calling 540-371-7444.

Susan Larson is the publisher of Fredericksburg.Today online news, a contributing writer for Fredericksburg Parent and Family magazine and a freelance writer and social media consultant.

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Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.