“So what do you do? I’m a college student, but what do you do?” This question coming from a woman who just started a conversation with me as I was riding the bus back out to Nooksack.
She was sharing with me her excitement on receiving her tax refund to purchase a desperately needed car. Her train of thought then turned to how thankful she was for all the gifts she had in her life, after being homeless and what I assume to be other struggles, “I thank God that I have a floor to mop and a pan to wash!”
When the conversation was then pushed into my direction, I answered that I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Do you?! Do you really?!” This woman, who I had never met until a few short minutes before, started welling up reminiscing about the relationship she had with her “Big” as a youth. Tears freely rolled down her cheeks as she remembered her very first Prince record, going to see Janet Jackson in concert, and the unconditional acceptance her Big gave her. My bus companion came from an abusive, alcoholic home and the acceptance she received from her BS, who never judged the situation, has never left her. “I would be in a much worse state without the attention she gave me.” She gently took my hand, looked deeply into my eyes and thanked me; this stranger thanked me for the work I do, the relationships I help create, and the impact I make on a daily basis. As we were approaching her stop, she wanted me to know that she’s going to graduate next year from WCC and transfer to WWU to be a chemical dependency advocate for youth.
As she got up, I realized the importance of this interaction, that because of her experience as a Little, she is now pursuing a profession to make positive changes in youths lives. I took her hand and thanked her back.