By: Karen Dacey
When Little Brother Isaias was 10 years old, his mother courageously decided to share him with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dale and Wendy McEntire were recruited from Little Brother’s community to enroll as a Big Couple to match with Isaias, and the beginning of a friendship was set in motion.
Isaias gained a Big Brother and a Big Sister, his mother gained a pair of trusted adults to share quality time with her son, and the mentors gained a warm connection with a bright young man.
Nearly eight years have passed since the three were paired up. Those years have been filled with a gamut of adventures, from hiking, movies, plays, and visits to art galleries, to dinners and games at the McEntire’s home where conversation ranged through all sorts of interesting topics.
Realizing that the Big Couple were exactly what Little Brother needed in his life, his mom, Karen Schinke, lauds their consistency, encouragement and inspiration. The success of their relationship influenced her to enroll both younger siblings in the BBBS community-based program as well and a new Big Sister and Big Brother were added to the family.
During the course of his match, Isaias has grown from a young elementary school student into a confident high school graduate. He has been involved in soccer over the years and also developed a knack for winter sports while in high school. Isaias has served as a trained soccer official and lifeguard for several years.
Recently the Bigs were elated to watch their Little Brother graduate from Polk County High School. They celebrated with a trip to The Gorge zipline, generously donated for Littles in Big Brothers Big Sisters by Sara and Tim Bell of Green River Adventures. Of course, all thought it was so much fun. Said Wendy, “What an exciting way to celebrate his graduation …flinging yourselves through the canopies together!”
Big Brothers Big Sisters has an Enrichment Fund, established through generous donors at the Polk County Community Foundation, to help offset costs of outings and Littles’ enrichment experiences, that helped fund the zipline adventure for the Bigs. The foundation’s purpose with the gift is to help support activities for the Littles, like sports registration fees, swim lessons, or nature camp, and to assist the Bigs so that mentoring is not a financial burden.
Dale and Wendy’s experience as volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters has been positive and fulfilling.
“We are so grateful for being a part of Isaias’ life. We have enjoyed every stage of our time with him−from playing board games and going on hikes, to learning how to drive, to watching him become the soccer team captain and graduating high school. It has been a pleasure to watch him mature into a responsible and caring young man.”
Isaias feels that his experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters helped him to become a better person and learn the values of community work, saying “I’m very glad I met my Bigs.” No doubt his life has been enhanced through their friendship.
The trio will remain matched through the first year of college in the Big Brothers Big Sisters “graduate match” phase to support Little Brother through this transition. Beyond that, the friendship forged is likely to last a lifetime, because “you don’t stop caring” when the match officially ends.
Not all matches endure through graduation, as the initial contract period is for a year at a time, renewable annually as the participants desire. Mentors may choose to befriend a child who needs a little extra attention in school, or serve in the community-based program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently enrolling children ages 6-14, especially girls since there are often more female volunteers getting involved to serve as mentors, and there are generally more boys on the waiting list for a Big Brother. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, call 828-859-9230, 899-9699, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit bbbswnc.org.