Sa’nyia is 11 years-old and is friendly, outspoken and energetic. She is being raised by her mother, Kimberly, who was seeking a role model for her daughter to learn from and aspire to be like.
Meanwhile, Shelby was looking for a way to inspire youth. “I worked for several years in a youth theater program, and missed working with kids,” says Shelby.
Sa’nyia and Shelby were matched in November 2015 and enjoy crafting together. They once built an elaborate box fort in Sa’nyia’s garage, and Shelby taught her how to knit and sew pillowcases. They also enjoy going on hikes and swimming. Sa’nyia says that she loves learning new things from Shelby, including how to be more kind, and is grateful that her Big Sister never judges her. One of the most important experiences they have shared together is when Sa’nyia joined Shelby in picking up her wedding dress, a truly special moment that they shared together.
“Shelby is a perfect example of what a Big Sister should be,” says Kimberly. “She is reliable, smart, positive, happy, loving and encouraging. She is constantly finding teaching moments in their outings as well as introducing her to new things. Since having Shelby as a Big Sister my daughter has drastically improved her attitude, grades and behavior.”
While the impact of this match has been incredible on Sa’nyia, it has also truly touched Shelby in a way she didn’t know was possible. “Sa’nyia encourages me to try new things and go new places,” says Shelby. “She possesses an indomitable spirit and boundless energy, and each day she becomes more caring and empathetic. I hope she surrounds herself with people who believe in her and inspire her creativity and potential. I truly believe there’s nothing she can’t do.”
It isn’t just Shelby who feels a strong connection to her Sister. “Not only is Shelby my Big, she is like my real sister,” says Sa’nyia. “She is special to me because she’s fun, nice and inspires me to be good. She’s the best Big Sister ever!”