The first time Holly met her Little Sister Avi, she was nervous. “I wanted her to like me, and I really wanted to get along well,” Holly shares. “I was nervous about my ability to be a Big Sister. I had some great training from the organization, but obviously being trained is different than going out and doing it.” Holly, who is a project manager at an engineering consulting firm, says that she wanted to be a mentor because she has had them throughout her life. “I’ve had many different mentors at certain points,” says Holly. “I work in an industry that is very male dominated, so I gravitated toward strong female figures in companies that I worked for, and I’ve been fortunate that they’ve given so much time and energy and encouragement to me.” Holly wanted to offer that same support to a girl in Boston. Little did she know that her connection with Avi would build not only into a friendship, but into a true sisterhood.
In April 2018, Holly and Avi met at Avi’s home. During their first visit they went to an arcade together, and both Avi and Holly recall feeling an immediate connection and comfort together. Since then, the two have built a relationship based on trust, care, and traditions. One of those traditions is eating ice cream together! During the two years of the pandemic, this tradition became especially important. The two had their weekly visits virtually and regularly updated each other with pictures of them eating ice cream. Today, Holly and Avi are thrilled to reinstate this tradition in person! Holly and Avi’s bond as sisters is clear from the many ways they have supported each other over the years. During the first year of their mentoring relationship, Avi’s mom, Darlene, planned a small, outdoor birthday party for Avi with only immediate family, and she invited Holly to attend as well. For Holly, this was an early sign that her bond with Avi was special. And that bond continued to strengthen. Holly attends Avi’s basketball games and is a regular presence at school events like when Avi graduated from elementary school. Avi shows up for Holly too. A very special memory the two share is when Avi was a bridesmaid at Holly’s wedding. As part of the wedding, Avi gave a speech celebrating Holly. “It was really special,” says Holly. For Avi, it was a beautiful moment to celebrate her Big Sister. “It was honestly so nice,” says Avi. “It just meant so much to me, seeing her so happy and being able to be there, and the fact that she picked me to not just be there, but be involved on her big day really meant a lot to me.” Holly and Avi have been there for each other through the highs and lows. When Holly’s mother passed away, the funeral was the same weekend as Avi’s birthday. Darlene had been planning another birthday party for Avi, but the two decided to attend the funeral instead. When reflecting on this moment, Holly remembers Darlene telling her “Of course we wouldn’t miss it, Avi’s your sister.” Holly, who is an only child, didn’t know what it was like to have a sister. Now she says, “I have a sister for real, and that’s irreplaceable.” Avi’s mother Darlene was eager to find a Big Sister for her daughter. “I’m a single mother,” says Darlene, “so I was looking for someone else who can come into her life and be like a big sister and do things with
her. Holly has been a really good friend, even to me.” Little Sister Avi says that her relationship with Holly is different “because my mom has to deal with everything. It’s good to have someone who isn’t related to the family because the family always tells each other everything. So then to have it just be Holly, and to have someone understand where I’m coming from and being open to talk to me about anything, that’s the best part.” Today, Holly cannot imagine her life without Avi in it. Even though five years ago she was nervous and unsure how to be a good mentor, Holly knows it was the best decision she made. To those who are interested in becoming a Big Sister, Holly says “despite any nerves or worries or doubts, it’s going to be so worth it. Be present, it’s okay to make mistakes, just be there. You’re going to have an amazing time and bring a lot of joy to your life in ways that you may not even imagine.” For Avi, she believes that every girl can benefit from having a Big Sister, including those who are unsure. “I would say I know how it feels to not know if you want to do it,” says Avi. “You’re scared, you don’t know how it’ll turn out, but just give it a try. People are always scared of doing stuff that they don’t know. But then you do it and you’re exposed to new things and get to have someone who’s another outlet. Even outside of the program, they are still your friend. It’s all so worth it.”