The Very Best Gift!

Local Big Friend Shares Her Time Well Spent

Sandy Currie is grateful… grateful for many things in life, and among her “blessings” has been her experience sharing time one on one with local children as a Big Friend.  About eleven years ago Sandy signed up to become a volunteer mentor in Family Services of the Merrimack Valley’s Big Friends Little Friends program, and for her it’s made all the difference.  At the time she had some extra hours on her hands and decided to offer them to a young child in need.  That one Little Friend, Toni-Ann (9 years old at the time of their match, and now 20), in time led to a second mentee, 11 year old Elaine.  “To be honest, the program gives me more than I give to it,” says Sandy who recently shared an inside glimpse of her personal experience as a volunteer Big Friend.  “Mentoring is time well spent,” reflects Currie.  “You learn more from the child than you can imagine.  Time spent with a little friend is precious and it can be a pleasure.  Spending two hours with a Little Friend goes so fast, and soon you will be wanting to spend more.”  She sums up her two hour commitment with the saying, “time flies when you are having fun”, and she advocates documenting the experience in photographs… “Take pictures every time you meet.  As you look back at them you’ll see it is, for sure, time well spent.”

Despite her professional commitments and service mentoring two young ladies, Currie still manages to find some time for herself.  And in those hours?  She enjoys sewing (quilting), crocheting and watching a good movie – all activities she shares with her Little Friend(s).  A great big THANK YOU to Sandy for her service and to all of our volunteer mentors for the difference you make in the lives of local children!  

Do you recall how you originally learned about Family Services and our Big Friends Little Friends program?
I do not have children of my own, and I wanted to share my time with a young child.  My friend Paula King mentioned to me that there was a program that I may enjoy.  In the past, I was involved in non-profits on the Board of Directors of Essex Art Center, Life Links, and spent time with children in a women’s shelter.  This program had a one to one with a child and had the opportunity to bond with a child.

How does mentoring speak to your personally as a form of giving back?
Mentoring is fun.  Yes, at times it can be challenging, but it is worth it. I receive so much joy in spending time with my two friends.  I started the program when Toni-Ann was about 9 (pictured above with Sandy).  She is now taking classes at Northern Essex Community College, and I see her when she has time.  I have been with Elaine now for one year and hope to see her attend college also.  It is very the best gift, spending time with children and see them grow, one can receive.  I give of my time, but I receive so much more.  

How long did it take for you and your Little Friend Elaine to fall into a rhythm or comfort level with one another?  What has she taught you over time?
Elaine is a very loving person and it took two sessions to feel comfortable with her.  She speaks her mind and lets you know how she feels.  She is a breath of fresh air.  I enjoy spending time with her.  Elaine has taught me to speak up, to not be afraid to try new things and to just have fun.  

Can you share a favorite moment or outing with either of the girls?  
My favorite moment with Elaine was at the Family Services outing at Canobie Lake Park when she was on the log ride and she smiled with joy.  I sent Family Services a picture of her smile and I have that picture at work as well.  

Why is now the time to be a mentor?
If you have time, it is always time to be a mentor.  There is no time like the present.  Now is a good time for me as I have the time.  I am not as young as I used to be, so I have the time now and want to spend it as a mentor.

In closing, is there anything else you wish to share about your experience as a Big Friend?
Just a big THANK YOU, as I am enjoying my time and experience in the Big Friends Little Friends program.

Family Services of the Merrimack Valley’s Big Friends Little Friends is a youth mentoring program that matches caring adult mentors with young people who could benefit from a relationship with a positive adult role model. The goal of the program is to develop the positive potential of young people by providing them with support, guidance and friendship.  Serving fifteen towns in the Merrimack Valley, each year our Big Friends Little Friends program matches approximately 100 children with mentors.  To learn more about the many wonderful children who hope to be paired with an adult mentor, please contact our Big Friends Little Friends program at 978-327-6600.

Big Friends are caring and responsible people who:

  • Are from all different backgrounds, races and religions, and like to have fun.
  • Are committed to being a consistent role-model; to their continued mentor training; and to sharing, listening and visiting with their Little Friend.
  • Are able to relate positively and in a meaningful manner to a growing boy or girl.

Little Friends are boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14 who:

  • Reside in our service area.
  • Have a desire to be in the program and want to have a Big Friend.
  • Have the approval and support of their parents or guardians to participate in the program.
  • Are from all different backgrounds, races and religions.

Our mentoring program service area includes children from: Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury, and West Newbury.  Please consider helping us make our long wait list vanish this season by signing up to be a Big Friend today!  Check out one of our great matches… Omar and Boris.



No Comments

Comments are closed.