July 3, 2019

Each month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin shines a light on the relationships that we are helping build within our community. Please help us congratulate Sheila & Ashlee Raddant and their Little Sister Tori, all from Shawano — our Shawano County Match of the Month for July.

Where did you hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Sheila and Ashlee:  We heard from the Shawano Program Coordinator, Chris Marcks, who was our former neighbor.  Tori lived in our neighborhood so Chris thought of us as good candidates for a Big and also being very convenient for us.

Why did you want to have a Big Sister?
Tori: I thought it would be fun having someone to do things with, and because they are lots, lots, lots of fun and lots of things to do with them.

Why did you want to become involved?
S: I always thought it would be neat to be a big sister at some point, but it didn’t become foremost in my mind until I was actually asked to be one.  Also, because I have only one child, I felt I could take the time to share my life with another child in some way, to make a difference in their life.

A: I grew up an only child, so I thought it would be fun to have a little sister to hang out with.

What do you do when you spend time together?
S: We have a wide variety of things we like to do, from big things like seeing a musical performance to small day-to-day things like flower shopping. Some times it’s as simple as discussing and reviewing her past week what she had been involved in and how she felt about it.  We try to take advantage of the events at the library and in our local community, as well as the BBBS Match events.

A: We like to do a lot of crafts and creative things.  Tori is a great crafter.  We also like to do stuff to help teach Tori life lessons.

T: We saw some movies; I saw a 3D movie for the first time.  We have done crafts and I even taught one to my big sisters.  Bay Beach, the Appleton Children’s Museum. We all did Yoga together for the first time. We even all did a first together of eating FroDoughs for the first time. They were yummy.

Is there something in particular that stands out as a memorable time with your Big?
T: Our first outing and time together when we went to the Kids from Wisconsin performance.   It was outstanding.  The Bay Beach & Wildlife Sanctuary was neat, walking in with the ducks and geese.  Learning about Yoga together at the BBBS event was fun.

Is there something in particular that stands out as a memorable time with your Little?

S: When Tori smiles and says “I really love being with you guys.” – it really warms my heart and makes me realize the benefits of the BBBS program.

A: Going to Bay Beach and seeing Tori ride the Zippin’ Pippin’ roller coaster for the first time was a great experience.

Is there something in the future that you would like to do together, or that you look forward to experiencing together?
S: The possibilities are endless, as we all discuss what activities we want to experience together. On the agenda for summer is a trip to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Ashlee and I have been there and we are excited to have Tori experience it, as she is excited to go as well. We also want to help in some fund raising events with Tori for the BBBS program to feel event more a part of the organization that has helped us, and also as part of our volunteering goals to do with Tori to show the importance of giving back.

A: Learning new things and teaching her how to be a good person.  I’d like to teach her how to be a positive role model herself.

T: We want to spend a lot of time together.  It’s hard picking just a few, as we have so many things we want to do together.  But some we discussed were Funset Boulevard, Circus World Museum, learning to ice skate, having a cat party (make ears/nose/whiskers/tail like a cat and watch cat movies and read about cats).

What have you learned from your Big?
T: We’ve talked about safety in certain situations.  Whenever we do something together, we try to learn something new from it Learning of all the different kinds of pies at OJ’s famous pies was fun… and eating it!

What have you enjoyed about being a Big?
S: I enjoy seeing Tori’s eyes light up and her cute laugh when we are having a fun time. I am glad I can share my experiences in life with her. When she wanted us to attend her First Communion ceremony, we realized we were a big part of her life already.   I thank her mom for working with the BBBS program to let her have big sisters.

A: I like  being a  big sister to know how it feels to have siblings and how to “spoil” them.

How has being matched with a Big made a difference to you?
T: It’s nice I have someone to have special days with.

In what way has being matched with your Little affected you and your life?
S: It is a very rewarding feeling to have the day with Tori.  I hope it not only has a good effect on me and my daughter’s life and Tori’s life, but her family, and ultimately a great long-term effect in the community at large.
A: It’s definitely affected my life positively, because I get an adorable sister in my life and I get to teach someone special to me how to be kind.

If you had a crystal ball and could see five years into the future, what do you see for yourself and your match?
T: I still want us to be together and having fun together.

What would you say to others about Big Brothers Big Sisters and to others who are thinking about becoming a Big?
S: The need for Bigs is very great – it’s an easy thing to do to give your time, talents, and wisdom to a child who needs it.

You get a lot of support and help from the BBBS program coordinator and organization – that is very helpful, especially at the beginning of your match relationship,

A: It affects not only yourself, but others and helps you feel good to know you’re having a positive impact on someone.