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Cara and Eric’s Story

Eric was on the waiting list for our Community Program for 14 months.  Eric is a bright, sweet 10 year-old boy who struggles with a Learning Disability and ADHD.  When the school year started in August of 2014, a female high school Big was interviewed and enrolled in our School-Based program who would be a great match for Eric.  When 18 year-old Cara and Eric were first introduced, they hit it off immediately.  Eric and Cara bonded over their mutual love of art and playing board games.  Eric’s parents had recently announced they were getting a divorce, and although Eric’s mom informed BBBS to be aware that the situation was complex and likely to turn ugly, and that Eric may be upset and acting out as a result, Eric never opened up to BBBS staff, or his teacher, about the situation.

Eric’s teacher saw him acting out at school at the start of the school year, being defiant, disruptive, and demonstrating a poor attitude toward school, which was likely a manifestation of his feelings surrounding his parents’ divorce.  As soon as Eric and Cara started meeting regularly during the school day, Eric’s problematic classroom behavior improved dramatically.  Within only a few weeks, Eric started opening up to Cara about his parents’ divorce, about what it’s like to see his parents fighting, and about having to split his time between two households.

At this point, Cara was spending two days per week with Eric.  Cara approached BBBS staff around this time and made a request to start seeing Eric four days per week, as her schedule allowed this change, and she felt it would be beneficial to Eric.  Eric was so excited to hear he would get more time with Cara.  Eric and Cara have been meeting four times per week since November, and have both stated multiple times how much they look forward to their time together.  They spend their mentoring time playing Scrabble, card games, reading, playing on the playground, or in class, where Cara can support Eric with his school work.  Cara even extends her mentoring time with Eric one or two days per week, so she can stay in Eric’s classroom with him during math, which is a subject in which Eric struggles immensely.  Cara stays late, through her own lunch time at the high school, in order to spend this valuable extra time with Eric.

Both Eric and Cara value their time together immensely.  Eric has even shown up to school on two separate occasions, with a fever and bags under his eyes, sick as a dog, because he didn’t want to miss seeing Cara that day.  When the weather turned cold this winter, Cara could see that Eric was coming to school without a hat to keep his head warm, which was likely why he was getting sick so often.  Cara crocheted Eric a matching hat and scarf set, which he wears proudly; Eric never misses an opportunity to tell his friends, teachers, and anyone who asks that his “awesome Big” made them for him.

Since Cara and Eric’s match started, Eric’s teacher reports that his self-confidence and ability to express his feelings has improved, his disruptive behavior in the classroom has all but disappeared, and his attitude toward school is now much more positive.  Eric is not the only one who has benefited from mentoring.  Cara also states that being a Big has made her more responsible, knowing that a child was depending on her to always be there.  She also says that having Eric in her life made her feel like she was making a difference, and filling a gap in his life that nobody else could fill.

Because Cara is 18 and will be graduating in a few months, she has expressed an interest in transitioning their match from the School-Based program (which meets only during the school year) to the Community Program, which will allow Cara and Eric to continue their mentoring relationship into this summer and beyond.

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