Big Brothers Big Sisters continues despite COVID-19 challenges
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Weathering the coronavirus pandemic was tough on many middle and high school students, but two Charlottesville teenagers say having a mentor through Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) made all the difference.
“It fosters learning,” BBBS Board Chair Rashard Dacus said. “It also just gives someone a friend sometimes, and I think there’s a point in time where every kid has a time when they need a friend.”
The pandemic was and still is a time like that. That’s where Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge steps in, providing one-on-one mentorship every week to kids like 13-year-old Zameria Kier.
“She had to go to virtual school, be isolated from her friends, take on responsibilities - caring for her little sister so her mom could work. Her mom works at an assisted living home, so Zameria had to really step it up and take on a lot of pressure and stress,” Liz Russell, Zameria’s big sister, said. “When we’re together, we can just have fun.”
While some mentor-mentee pairs had to transition to meeting online, some, like Greer Kelly and 14-year-old Samirah Cooper, were still able to meet in-person.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, when we could only be outside, we would go to the Charlottesville track and exercise together,” big sister Kelly said. “We also started a podcast called 13 Going On 31. We were just talking about different topics during the pandemic.”
“It was super important to me, just to have someone to lean on during the pandemic. Greer kind of had the same struggles I had, so we could say, ‘Oh yeah, that happened to you too?’” Samirah said.
“When I was dealing with a problem, I would think back to Liz every time when she says that you can face problems,” Zameria said.
“Zameria has changed my life, she’s changed how I see the world,” Russell said.
There are still many challenges ahead for the nonprofit. It was just able to reopen near the end of June, but many of its mentees are too young to be vaccinated.
Click here to learn more about volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge.
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