Three graduate from Big Brothers Big Sisters

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2016

High school graduation is always a celebration, often blended with a twinge of reminiscence and anxiety. It also marks the successful culmination of Big Brothers Big Sisters matches, but rarely marks the end of these special friendships.

Little Brother Russell started out with his Big Sister Lynne Parsons in a school-based match when Russell was in first grade. With the help of community members, Lynne initiated a chess club at Russell’s Polk Central School and he developed quite a knack for the game. Russell’s reading and grades soon improved, and before long, he routinely made the honor roll. After the match transitioned to community-based, Lynne’s husband Ernie joined for a Big Couple match.

Over the years they supported and encouraged their Little Brother through guitar lessons, scouts, science and nature camps, as well as outings such as rock climbing, hiking, and fishing and boating at their lake, where they held a recent graduation party for Russell, his family and friends. While on the high school wrestling team, Russell realized he would like to study sports medicine. He will pursue this interest, attending his college of choice this fall at Western Carolina University. His Big Couple are very proud of their Little Brother achieving this level, a firm goal they held for him for many years.

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Little Sister Vicky and her Big Sister Monica Jones met when Vicky was in second grade. Also beginning as a school match, they soon transferred to the traditional program, allowing Monica to give Vicky another perspective, exposing her to theater, the arts, swimming, dining out, and having more opportunity. Vicky’s Big Sister wanted her to believe that she could be everything she wanted to be, noting, “I hope I’ve helped along the way, but she deserves all the credit for becoming the wonderful young woman she is now.”

Their match has remained strong over the years as Vicky has grown and developed into a poised, confident, caring young lady with a long list of accomplishments, including class president, student body president, National Honor Society, chair of the yearbook committee, chair of the prom committee, school swim team member, and 200 hours of volunteer experiences.

Vicky has accepted a full ride to Appalachian State University as one of six Wilson Scholars. She will study international relations and international criminal justice, with a minor in Arabic or Middle Eastern studies. Vicky would like to work in the human trafficking department of the FBI or SBI, or as an intelligence analyst and writer for the CIA.

Little Brother Kesley and his Big Brother Craig Williams were matched seven years ago. From the start their outings were mostly outdoor adventures, such as boating, biking, fishing, hiking or just walking the dog. Kesley has enjoyed helping Craig with projects, and has been happy to just hang out with his Big Brother and family for a cookout.

Craig says they have really bonded and had a lot of good experiences together. He expects them to maintain their connection for a long time. Kesley has loved doing this, being a Little Brother, and boasts that Craig is part of his family now. Kesley’s mother concurs… “Craig has been a father figure to Kesley, and we will consider Craig and Jacque to be part of our family forever!” Kesley graduated from high school in May, and will now be joining the military.

Program Coordinator Karen Dacey says that having these youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and watching them grow and develop into confident, capable young people has been such an honor. “We are very proud of Russell, Vicky and Kesley, and wish them all the best. We expect to hear great news about their lives in the years to come.”

Dacey continues, “We are so grateful for the generosity, compassion and guidance the Bigs shared with these Littles.” The volunteer mentors play such an important role in the lives of their Littles, offering friendship and support through experiences that broaden the horizons for their Littles and help each reach their potential. Not all matches continue through high school graduation, but they all benefit the children served.

As Big Sister Monica states, “Becoming a Big Sister wasn’t something I took on lightly. I was apprehensive, not sure what I could offer to a Little, and not sure if I was up for the responsibility, but I decided it was worth trying and I’m very glad I did. I have gained as much as I have given. I have truly enjoyed our years together, and although the match officially ends very soon, I think we’ll always keep in touch.” She urges anyone who is contemplating a match with a child to do so.

You can make a difference for a child too. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, please call 828-859-9230 or email

– article submitted

by Karen Dacey