In 2005, Emily Boone had been a social worker at Big Sister Boston for more than a year. She had earned her master’s degree in social work and felt stable and fulfilled in her personal life and her career. At work, she guided, supported, and shared resources with her caseload of Big Sisters, Little Sisters, and their families in our Community-Based Mentoring program. When she decided to seek out a volunteer opportunity, she did not have far to look.
Elizabeth’s family saw the positive impact of her relationship with Emily. During their first year together, Elizabeth’s brother wrote a letter to Emily while he was away at college, thanking her for looking out for his younger sister and caring so deeply for her. He wrote that Elizabeth’s friendship with Emily took away some of the guilt he felt about not being there to support his sister. The next year, Elizabeth proudly went on to fourth grade, and she and her Big Sister Emily transitioned into the Community-Based Mentoring program. The two would go to Emily’s apartment to try out new recipes for baked goods, make pottery at a studio in Brookline, or talk over fribbles at Friendly’s. Their relationship gave the mature Elizabeth the space she needed to be a kid. “I had to grow up fast,” she said. “I worked throughout high school to help my family. My friends weren’t doing that.”
Elizabeth worked hard and was excited at the prospect of attending college like her brothers and her Big Sister, but disappointment struck when she was waitlisted at Emerson College. On top of that, Elizabeth worried about financial aid. After years of looking forward to college, she became discouraged. But, she knew where to turn. Big Sister Emily and her husband joined forces to offer moral support and help Elizabeth develop a financial plan. This past January, Elizabeth entered Emerson College as a freshman.After four years together, Emily’s path took her to Connecticut, where she got married and started a family, but her commitment to Elizabeth never faltered. They visited often, talked on the phone, and Emily was always invited to family events. Emily attended Elizabeth’s quinceanera, where she was asked to sit at the family table. Elizabeth dedicated one of her 15 candles to her Big Sister and Elizabeth’s father recognized Emily in his toast. When Elizabeth graduated from high school, Emily was there to cheer her on and attended the family celebration afterward.
“I’ve learned from Emily that it doesn’t really matter where you come from or how you grew up, you can build a relationship with someone and learn from them,” said the now 19 year-old Elizabeth. “I strongly believe our relationship has molded me into the woman I am today.”