May 3, 2021

Alyssa Gilson & Pheonix

I first came to Big Brothers Big Sisters because I wanted to be involved in something long term in the community. I had always known about the program, but I learned more about being matched at an information meeting at Associated Bank and was inspired. I took a leap with the goal of having a positive impact on a kid in the community- plus, I thought it would be fun to spend time with a Little Sister.

Pheonix and I were matched in May of 2017, and we have learned a lot from each other since then. One of the most impactful memories I have with her is when we went to a BBBS activity at Green Bay Sail and Paddle. I was hesitant to participate, but Pheonix was really interested in it. It ended up being a great opportunity to learn together and have fun. In the end, I was really glad we participated because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. We have some ideas for future outings like ice skating, hiking, and doing some career shadowing- I like to do things with her that she doesn’t always have the opportunity to do herself. Two of Pheonix’s favorite memories were building a fort under the coffee table together and another time when we went into the hot tub and played in the snow until we were too cold. She also enjoys when we volunteer together, go for bike rides, go to the cat sanctuary, and go to the zoo. We have done so many things, it’s hard to remember them all!

Pheonix told me that she as learned new baking skills, she has gained confidence and is learning how to be herself and let the “true” her out. She used to be really shy but she is learning how to be more open and carefree in her life. The biggest thing that she has learned is the value of someone wanting to be there for her through the ups and downs. I have learned tons from her too! She reminds me to be a kid again, to have an imagination, be goofy and free, and not to worry so much. One time, we were in my car and I spilled some ice cream. Pheonix didn’t think anything of it and said, “It can be cleaned.” That was a good reminder to me to take things lightly.

For anyone looking to join Big Brothers Big Sisters, I would say to jump in head first. A year commitment seems like a lot, but the time goes by so quickly and the program is super flexible.