In 2008, Rosa’s daughter, America, was Matched with Johanna, a dedicated and compassionate Big Sister. The connection they forged was remarkable. At a time when Rosa was working to make ends meet while battling depression, Johanna stepped in, becoming a guiding light for America, then only seven years old. Together, they enjoyed outings and shared cooking adventures, creating memories that would shape America’s future.
Rosa recalls, “They became really important in each other’s lives. Johanna was really present in my daughter’s life, like going to her big events, always supporting her. My daughter was the flower girl at her wedding. I just… I feel forever indebted to Johanna for having done all those things with America, for being the support system at times when I was struggling.”
Amidst the challenges Rosa faced, Johanna’s unwavering presence brought stability and joy to America’s life. As the years went by, the impact of this Match resonated far beyond the initial connection. Johanna’s presence defied geography when she moved first to New York, then to Los Angeles, and started her own family. Now 22, America lives in New York, but her relationship with Johanna’s children is that of a beloved aunt, showing that mentorship and family can extend beyond traditional definitions. The ripple of positive influence initiated by Johanna’s support has been built up into a wave of connection that transcends distance and time.
“I feel forever indebted to Johanna for having done all those things with America, for being the support system at times when I was struggling.”
This year, driven by her own experience and a desire for meaningful connection, Rosa decided to pay the gift of mentorship forward. Having moved to San Francisco and achieved personal fulfillment by opening her own childcare business, she joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as a Big herself.
“I was craving that connection with someone else and I have the time and the experience with children. It just occurred to me. I feel very fortunate that even when I had my interview, I was told that it might take many months. And I thought that that was okay, that my Little would come to me. But it only took a few months, and we were Matched.”
Rosa’s journey came full circle as she became a mentor to Genesis, a young girl who, like Rosa’s daughter America, was in need of attention and support. Through shared fun and genuine connection over the last few months, Rosa has been able to uplift Genesis, introducing her to new adventures and perspectives that nurture her growth.
“I think the best way to approach being a mentor is to not come with an agenda or any expectations. I’m just here. We’re just spending time together, enjoying life together, supporting one another. Genesis has expressed to me that she doesn’t like school. And from what she’s shared with me about what her school is like, I don’t blame her. It’s tough being a kid and being in a system that isn’t supportive of all children. And I can understand her mom’s challenges too—as an immigrant, single mom from El Salvador, I also know how hard it can be to just gather the strength to keep things together and take the kids out to have fun. I’m just glad that my Little is enjoying herself.”
Just as Johanna’s presence had transformed America’s life years ago, Rosa is now playing a pivotal role in Genesis’s journey, proving that a single act of mentorship can create a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond expectations.
In a world where small gestures of kindness can spark lasting change, the story of Rosa, America, Johanna, and Genesis stands as a testament to the profound impact a single Match can have on individuals, families, and communities. Through these bonds, they’ve proven that the power of mentorship is a force that continues to shape lives, inspire growth, and build bridges between hearts.