For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. BBBS develops positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.
Recently, “Big Sister” Dr. Pamela Manning and her “Little” Keywanna Strong, 17, met at the new Fulford Homes Parkview Meadows development where the winner of the 24th Annual House Raffle will build their new dream home. The two are indeed like sisters and have been together for six years now.
“We met on April 2, 2012 and I have followed her through different schools - she just graduated from Civic Memorial High School and plans to go to Lewis and Clark this fall to begin her nursing degree!” Dr. Manning said. The two enjoy seeing the sites in St. Louis, dining out at new places and simply spending time together in person or on the phone. “We support each other,” she said with a smile and a hug to Keywanna. “At least once per week we try our best to get together - I just love her so much.”
Dr. Manning said it’s been amazing to know all that “Key" has gone through in such a relatively short time and yet, “she has the ability to see the positive in all things - I am super super proud of Key - she’s an extension of my own family."
Calling Dr. Manning “Sis,” Keywanna said, “she is always there for me even when she’s out of town - she gives me every bit of her time when she has it - she never turns me down. My mom loves her, too, and we appreciate everything she does for me!"
"God put us here for a reason,” Dr. Manning said.
The Southwestern Illinois agency, located in Belleville, has served more than 450 youth in Clinton, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in the past year with one-to-one matches such as Dr. Manning and Keywanna. Currently there are 65 youth between the ages of six and 14 who are waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister. If a person is interested in becoming a "Big," they will go through an extensive background check and careful interview process. Then Bigs and Littles are matched based on location, personalities and preferences. Full support is provided from the start, so matches can grow into lasting, fruitful friendships. It’s also important to note that the entire matching process is made possible through donations.
Thus, the current campaign for the 24th Annual House Raffle is set and only 3,900 certificates will be sold at $100 each. There are also 46 other prizes awarded. To purchase a house certificate, call (618) 398-3162 to charge your credit card; or purchase online at bbbsil.org; or visit the office at 2726 Frank Scott Parkway West in Belleville.
Lisa R. Adams, publisher of Marketplace Magazine and CEO of Adams Publications, has 30 years of experience as a journalist, editor and publisher. In addition, she is a member of Belleville BNI, St. Clair County East Rotary, the HBA of SWIL, Belleville Chamber of Commerce and the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce.