13-year-old Maya and her mentor Brittney share a strong connection through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Whether celebrating Maya’s academic awards or cheering from the audience of her ballet performances, Brittney has made it her goal as a mentor to be there to support Maya’s big dreams. One dream Little Sister Maya had at the beginning of the year was to start a support group on her middle school campus with her close circle of friends. She hoped to promote inclusion for students who felt lonely or bullied.
But then her school closed, and Maya and her friends were forced into isolation brought on by the pandemic.
Both of her parents are essential workers, so Maya stepped in to take care of her younger brother during the day. Having to focus more on her family than herself, Maya has struggled to devote enough time to distance learning. For the first time, she found herself being late for class, falling behind on homework and desperately missing her friends.
Over Zoom one day, Maya told her mentor that she was feeling sad and alone because her world had turned upside down. Knowing that Maya is an overachiever, Brittney made sure to validate her mentee’s feelings while also encouraging her to reach out for help.
“When I felt alone without my dad, my friends, and I lacked motivation with school, Brittney told me that it’s okay to not always be okay,” Maya said. “Brittney has always been there for me, and I really consider her my sister.”
By being a consistent presence and putting her mentee’s mental well-being above all else during this time of isolation, Big Sister Brittney has helped Maya settle into the uncertainty. She has slowly acclimated to distance learning, and she now makes her mental health a priority by planning virtual meet-ups with her friends and her mentor.
Mentorship and Big Brothers Big Sisters are making a difference for Maya, now more than ever.