The Big Brothers Big Sister program has been around for more than 100 years. But in 2020, it’s changing the lives of three Southwest Florida children.
Going to the park may be a daily occurrence for some children. But, for these kids, they cherish every moment they get outside.
“We only have one like one bedroom. Me and my sister would sleep in that one bedroom and my brother would sleep out on the sofa because he was small enough,” said Haven, one of the kids.
“It’s…crowded,” said Alexander.
These three kids share one bedroom. Their grandma takes care of them and her only income is from social security.
“I get like $803 a month, and that’s before my bills,” said Trish Thompson, the children’s grandmother and guardian. “I’m disabled, I don’t drive, so, I basically can’t take them anywhere. Not even like a block away to McDonald’s.”
But luckily for Haven, Berlyn and Alexander, things changed when their grandmother found out about the Big Brother Big Sister program.
“We go to the park every week now almost,” Alexander said.
“I took him to a park and he fatigued going to the parking lot because they’d been sitting in the home all summer,” said Dawn Willet, Alexander’s big. The kids’ big sisters can’t give them everything but they can try to make up for lost time.
“I had them sing happy birthday to him as a surprise with a desert. And I filmed it expecting a big reaction. And he just looked around,” said Willet. “And I realized later from talking to him later. He never had anyone sing happy birthday to him. And he had so much joy when I had to tell him no that’s that’s for your birthday.”
Becca Ollier, an executive producer at WINK News, is Berlyn’s Big Sister. “I asked her when’s the last time you went to the beach? And she couldn’t even remember,” she said.
“I’m able to talk to her without her judging me or anything,” Haven said.
Kelly Palmer works for the program and meets a lot of families, so it’s rare that she gets choked up. “I realized the incredible impact that one person can have on the life of a young child,” Palmer said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is so much more than taking the kids somewhere. The program gives children an encouraging adult to talk to and someone supportive to be around. They need so many more Big Brothers and Sisters. If you’d like to be a part of the program, you can apply here.