September 1, 2016, Asheville Citizen-Times
By: Beth Walton
The two sat and talked in Lane’s living room as their children played together nearby. Toys were scattered on the floor, and the youngest child, Morris’ baby girl, was showing off her newly developed crawling skills.
It had been over a decade since Lane, an elementary school teacher, was told she would be matched with Morris, a young girl about to turn 10 whose father was incarcerated and mother was struggling with addiction.
“They said, ‘We have the perfect person for you,’ and they did,” said Lane, as she admired Morris’ baby.
Over the years Lane and Morris went horseback riding together, made dinners, planted gardens and painted houses.
Their memories span from a time when Morris was still a child and they got into a pumpkin seed fight, to a more recent trip to the Western North Carolina Nature Center where they brought their children for a play date.
Both women now have two daughters.
Lane calls their relationship a friendship; Morris says it is a “sistership.”
“I had a very rough life and I feel like Laura was my angel,” said Morris, holding back tears. “Laura has been my backbone, she’s been there for me for everything from little things I needed for school to my college fund.”
Lane set up a savings account for Morris when she was a young girl. She would deposit small amounts of money into it on holidays, birthdays or when Morris got good grades.
Morris, who got pregnant five days after she graduated from Reynolds High School, sometimes feared she would never earn her degree.
This August she was beaming with pride when she showed Lane a certificate of completion for a medical administrative assistant program at Ultimate Medical Academy.
“I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have (Big Brothers Big Sisters) because it saved me,” Morris said. “I got a mentor, but out of that mentor I got a family.”
Volunteers like Lane are the heart of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ work, said Jamye Davis, spokeswoman for the agency.
In Buncombe County, more than 65 youths are waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister, Davis said. Mentors are needed in Haywood and Henderson counties as well, she said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters needs both male and female mentors, and all ages of volunteers are welcome to apply.
Men are especially needed to share activities in the community twice a month with a young person from a single-parent home, Davis said.
There are school and community-based programs, which include everything from homework help to weekend sporting events. Sometimes Big Brothers Big Sisters plans the events. Sometimes the volunteers and their mentee make arrangements.
The program can be life-changing, said Davis.
“Laura and Quan have an amazing friendship that has continued well beyond Quan being in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program,” she said.
“They epitomize the friendship that can blossom between a mentor and a Little Brother or Little Sister. They are just one of many Big/Little matches that have formed a long-lasting bond.”
This is the opinion of Beth Walton. Each week a Citizen-Times reporter volunteers around Asheville and shares their adventure with our readers. If you’d like us to visit your group, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-232-5851. More at www.citizen-times.com/mountaincauses.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina is always looking for volunteers and support. The agency is gearing up to host two Back-to-School Mentor Recruitment Drives.
On Sept. 7, the public is invited to drop in noon-2 p.m. for an open house at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office, 50 South French Broad Ave., # 213.
On Sept. 8, a drop-in recruitment event will be 5-7 p.m. at Catawba Brewing, 32 Banks Ave.
For information, contact Jamye Davis at email@example.com or 828-253-1470. Visit www.bbbswnc.org to learn more.