by La Toya Mabry
When my time should come, I want the world to say, “She made a difference.” I’ve been given that chance to do so for the past year. This opportunity came in the ability to positively influence the life of a child as a mentor. I’m LaToya Mabry and I volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As a 25 year old young professional, I found it hard to balance my obligations of life, work, family, and friends. I was certain that my plate was way too full to take on anything else. I’m sure as many of us do. The night I met Sara, the local Tri-Cities Big Brothers, Big Sisters coordinator, this changed for me. During her presentation, she told a story that pulled at my heart. They often ask the “littles” what’s the one thing you want your new “big” to know, and the answer was, “Tell them that I’m smart, tell them I’m really, really smart.” I’m not sure why, but it weighed heavy on my spirit. I’ve always believed in social responsibility and that greatness comes in many forms. It is simply not enough for us to succeed personally, but there is a responsibility to our community as well; a responsibility that I wanted to be part of.
Shortly after, I was matched with a fabulous second grade girl named Jaelynn. She absolutely stole my heart! I was honestly a bit unsure of what to expect. I’ll never forget the moments as I met her. I was frazzled and even a bit nervous. She was outside with a friend and he asked, “Who’s that lady?” Jaelynn planted her feet firmly on the ground, turned her head and said, “That’s not some lady, that’s my big sister.” I looked at her and smiled, as she came over and greeted me with the biggest hug ever. Immediately I knew that this is where I was supposed to be.
Over the past year, some of the greatest experiences of my life have been shared with her. We have created a genuine friendship, with the ability to openly exchange ideas and opinions. She offers me a new outlook and often reminds me of the importance of taking the time to dream; to use my imagination and live as I feel, not as my schedule requires.
My time with Jaelynn has meant so much more to me than she will ever know. It doesn’t matter if we are running errands or rock climbing, our time is special not because of where we go or what we do, it’s simply because it is spent together. She has given me a greater respect of time. It’s one of the most selfless gifts you can ever give someone. You can never get it back, yet time can provide memories that last forever. I’m thankful to Big Brothers Big Sisters for giving me the opportunity to give my time to a child.
Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children, ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. BBBS helps develop positive relationships that have direct and lasting impacts on the lives of young people.
For more information on becoming a volunteer with BBBS in the Richmond area, please visit www.bigbrobigsis.com.
LaToya Y. Mabry, born in Portsmouth, VA graduated from Hopewell High School in 1999, and received her Bachelors of Science from Old Dominion University in Business Management and Urban Planning in 2003. She is a member of Providence Baptist Church in Prince George, and works for a local non-profit doing Fair Housing and Advocacy work.