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Community Gathers For Big Sister’s 60th Anniversary Launch

Posted 02/23/2011

My hope for the future is that more women will step up and give the simple, yet significant gifts of time, care, guidance, and support to a girl in our city.

-Current Big Sister, and former Little Sister, Amanda Martinez


My hope is that Big Sister can continue to support mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents-anyone raising a girl-by providing another positive adult she can turn to.

-Sharon Kittrell, mother of a Little Sister


My hope is that our city’s corporate leaders will join me in recognizing that an investment in the healthy development of girls today is an investment in a thriving workforce and community of tomorrow.

-Max Bardeen, Board of Directors President and Managing Director at UBS Financial Services, Inc.


My hope is that our city’s girls will grow up to be safe, smart, healthy, and ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow because of the investment Big Sister Association has made in them.

-State Representative Carlos Henriquez, 5th Suffolk District


My hope is that Big Sister will continue to grow and thrive for another 60 years, and never lose sight of the impact an adult friend can have on the life of a girl.

-Jeanne Yozell, former Executive Director of Big Sister Association


My hope is that it will not take another 60 years until the question isn’t “why girls?” but “why not girls?

-Deborah Re, Chief Executive Officer of Big Sister Association


With those hopes from all corners of the Big Sister community, we officially launched our 60th anniversary year on February 17. We want to extend a very big thank you to the nearly 200 Big Sisters, funders, advocates, and friends both old and new, who gathered at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter last Thursday to celebrate the beginning of our most exciting decade yet.
We were especially honored to have Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts, as our keynote speaker for the evening. Mrs. Patrick spoke to the challenges facing girls today and how quickly they can head down an unhealthy path if they don’t see a future for themselves. “Being a Big Sister means plucking the threads of character from a girl and weaving a carpet that she can use to fly.”
Guest speaker, Linda Brennan, a former Little Sister who grew up in the Bromley-Heath housing development, reinforced Mrs. Patrick’s words as she shared the life-changing impact of having a Big Sister. Linda’s parents were poor, uneducated, and physically ill, leaving them often unable to provide their daughter with the care and attention she needed. Linda didn’t dream beyond what she saw around her. When she was matched with her Big Sister Marlene, Linda was unsure a woman she had never met would even show up to the housing development in which she lived. But she did. And for more than 40 years, she has remained by Linda’s side: Through dolls and dating, high school graduation and college applications. 
When the demands of nursing her ailing father, working two jobs, and commuting to school every day became too much Linda considered leaving college. Marlene put forth a simple challenge: “If you tell me you do not want to do this anymore, I will understand.  But please don’t tell me you cannot do this.”  Linda went on to graduate from college, earn her master’s degree, buy a home, start a family, and see both her children graduate from college. Then, in 2008, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. As always, Marlene provided love and support through Linda’s recovery. On February 17, Marlene was once again there for her Little Sister, sitting proudly by the stage as Linda shared her story.

Deborah Re, Big Sister’s CEO, and members of the Big Sister community share their hopes for girls
Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts, with Little Sister Kenya, who currently lives in Bromley-Heath, and former Little Sister Linda who also grew up there
Linda’s daughter, Jacqueline, and her former Big Sister Marlene Archer
Big Sister’s Board Chair, Timothy O’Brien, and former interim ED, Christine Creelman, show their support for the future of girls

Photos: Yuri George Vaysgant www.yurivaysgant.com