(This story, written by Hendersonville County Big Brother Joey Popp from an email by Trisha King, was posted on blueridgenow.com, the website for The Hendersonville Times-News, on Sept. 13, 2020.)
Power comes in many forms. During these days of pandemic, powerful actions and unforgettable moments often speak louder than words.
A recent experience may turn a powerful moment into much needed support for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ one-on-one mentoring program, thanks to Trisha King of Sumter, South Carolina. She recently visited this area and dropped by the Hendersonville Farmers Market.
That’s where you can find me on most Saturdays, selling fresh-cut or dried flowers, with proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina in Henderson County.
It never ceases to amaze me the people who want to help and even share their stories. Trisha truly touched me and reinforced why I’m driven to continue that mission.
As North Carolina’s Big Brother of the Year, my mission is to support and represent thousands of youth served across the state. Our goal is transforming lives through mentoring and supportive services, pairing youth, called “Littles,” with volunteers, known as “Bigs.”
The experience can be life changing. For Trisha King, a former “Little” from California and now a grandmother living in Sumter, it was truly the beginning of new life.
When she strolled through the market, Trisha noticed the Big Brothers Big Sisters banner and booth. Her story was unveiled and soon tears appeared. A powerful moment turned into my request for her to share such a heartfelt story. She took a business card and promised to write.
A few days later I received this email:
Hi Joey, we met at the market. I was telling you about my Big Sister. Here are some details of my story. I was born in Venice, California to a family of 15 siblings. We were poor, neglected and abused.
When I was 6 years old, a social worker assigned the family a Big Sister. Her name was Melanie. Melanie would take me and my younger sisters to the park, to the movies and sometimes to the fair. She gave us the love and attention we lacked at home.
My mother never favored me, so I received most of the abuse. Through the years, my Big Sister tried to protect me from the violence but it only made things worse. For 10 years my Big Sister’s dedication never wavered. She tried to adopt me but the court system would not permit a single white female to adopt a Mexican child, regardless of the obvious abuse. The judge didn’t believe in separating blood.
Then when I was 16, the social worker convinced my mother to surrender custody of me to my Big Sister with the agreement that my Big Sister pays her $72 a month till I turn 18. That’s what I was worth on my mother’s welfare check.
My Big Sister and I endured it all and our relationship strengthened. She rescued me. She loved me and cared for me like a mother is supposed to do. My Big Sister, I call mum, is no longer with us, but I know she will always be with me.
Trisha agreed to share her transformative story, and now this mixed media artist is sharing even more by donating a piece of her original art in order to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The timing couldn’t be better. BBBSWNC in Henderson County is in the middle of an online auction. Our annual fundraiser, “A Taste of the Vineyard,” was canceled due to the pandemic. So we launched an online auction in mid-August that continues through Oct. 8, the date when we would have held the live event.
Trisha’s distinctive artwork is available to view, bid or “buy now” by going to www.bbbswnc.org and clicking the auction tab. You’ll find dozens of other items, from vacation get aways and personal services to gift cards, jewelry and collectibles, with all proceeds benefitting Henderson County youth.
Something tells me Trisha’s piece called “Tree of Life” just may turn out to be one of our top auction items. It’s up to you. After all, these efforts help ‘ignite potential’ in our youth. Nobody knows that better than Trisha King.
Joey Popp is an advisory council and board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. He’s a freelance journalist and enjoys finding time to volunteer in the community for BBBS, North Carolina Extension Center and his church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on how you can volunteer for BBBS, reach out to program coordinator Morgan Harris at email@example.com or 828-507-6644.