A’Vonti, 9, was matched with her Big Sister Vanessa in April 2018, and had an instant connection. “When I first met Vanessa, I thought she sounded very nice,” said A’Vonti. “She’s cool!” These two are always spending time together laughing, and love to play with Vanessa’s dog.
Growing up, Vanessa looked up to many different mentors, including her mom, and she was inspired to be the same influence on another young woman. “My favorite thing about being matched with A’Vonti is that she is amazing and bright,” said Vanessa. “She teaches me to be free, and don’t forget to have fun!”
Both A’Vonti and Vanessa know that the fun has just begun in their match, and look forward to all they will share together in the future. “I hope to watch A’Vonti grow into a confident woman and help people in her community,” said Vanessa. A’Vonti also hopes that her Big Sister can learn from her too. “I think I can teach her to do gymnastics!” said A’Vonti.
Vanessa is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigs with Badges program, as she is a Sergeant with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She truly enjoys being part of the program, and how being a Big Sister has deepened her connection to her community.
“As an officer, we are often exposed to malicious and tragic elements in our careers, and at times, we find ourselves fixated on the negative,” said Vanessa. “So rather than focusing on what is wrong with our community, let us focus on what we can do better for our community. If I can inspire someone with a badge and heart to step up to support and enrich their youth, I will be one happy woman. ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’”
Vanessa hopes that sharing her experience as a Big will encourage other officers to serve as mentors. “Do it!” said Vanessa. “Fuel your heart and soul while you share a journey with the youth in your community. Teach them something and they will help you learn about yourself.”