April is Volunteer Appreciation Month nationwide, a good time to recognize some of our Bigs who are making big differences in their Littles’ lives. Today we’re featuring Ann Geers, who has been matched with her Little Sister Megan since 2011. Both live in Haywood County.
“The match was ideal in so many ways that we had yet to discover,” Ann recalled of the meeting. The first way it was ideal was obvious. Megan, who first met Ann eight years ago when she was in the fourth grade, has significant hearing loss in both ears. Ann, who had recently retired to Western North Carolina from a life in academia, had spent her entire career in the research and clinical treatment of hearing loss.
It was a mere coincidence that they both enrolled in Haywood County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program at the same time, said Martha Barksdale, the BBBS program coordinator who matched them. Theirs is “a perfect example of what a match should be,” she said. “I have seen them together at the coffee shop, and they are two peas in a pod.”
Supportive throughout Megan’s school years, encouraging her in theater and singing, Ann has been a strong role model for Megan, Martha said.
“Ann has been there for conversation, through good times, through bad times, summer job applications, college applications and so much more,” Martha said. “I think one of their favorite things to do together is cook a meal.”
Ann and her husband also include Megan in their visits to see their children and grandchildren.
“Megan has grown in all the ways one would expect for a girl moving from childhood to adolescence,” Ann said. “I have been with her while she selected her career goal (marine biology), her boyfriend (a wonderful young man), her high school (Haywood Early College) and higher education (UNC Wilmington).
“I have experienced the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows of adolescence with her and was constantly amazed by her maturity and intelligence. I have been there through great sadness and confusion in her life, and I’ve seen her surmount these obstacles and be better off for the experience.
“I also encouraged her native intelligence and intense curiosity in the world around her by reinforcing her interest in science and math. I hope that I have helped her develop the drive and motivation to succeed in life on her own terms.”
There are “so many” children in Haywood County that could benefit from Big Brothers Big Sisters, Martha said.
“It’s always nice for a child to have that extra adult ally, one that believes in them, cares about them, asks them how they are doing in school, how things are going, someone who is a good, all-around friend and listener.
“I have seen the miracle of this program, the magic – it’s amazing. I am so grateful to all the volunteers that take the time out of their lives to make a huge difference.”