Keri Powell was nervous.
She wanted to mentor a girl through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock program, but she didn’t have any children of her own and wasn't sure what to expect.
Powell met her ‘little sister,” Kiana, on Jan. 16, 2006. After trying to figure out what they should do for their first outing, the staff suggested she take Kiana to the McDonald’s down the street.
Kiana, who was only 5 years old at the time, was quiet when they were first introduced at the program’s office. But, once they left for their one-on-one time, she became talkative. Before Powell knew it, Kiana finished her chicken nuggets, played on the playground and their time together was up.
Powell couldn’t wait until the next opportunity they’d get to spend time together.
“On our anniversary, I said something to her about, ‘It’s been two years and I was so scared, were you sacred?’ She was so innocent. She was like, ‘You were scared to go to McDonald’s?’” Powell recalled during an interview on Thursday. “I don’t think it phased her that I was a nervous wreck.”
More than 10 years after the two were matched together as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, Powell considers Kiana part of the family.
“I never thought 10 years ago that we’d still be matched,” Powell said. “The young children that are in the program, I think if somebody can just commit that small amount of time to be a constant person for them that they know is available, it would just make all the difference in the world for that child.”
"The mentoring program has been proven to help children establish trust with their parents and teachers, perform better in school and improve their attitudes towards risky behavior," said Selena Mendoza, marketing and recruitment director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock.
“It is a fantastic program and I know that they have kids that still need matches,” Powell said. “At first you kind of think, ‘I don’t know if I can meet the minimum requirement.’ But then it’s like, she’s just part of the family.”
Powell said she’s seen Kiana grow into a responsible teenager who volunteers year-round and spent two summers working for the South Plains Food Bank’s GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business) program, which aims at teaching young children life and job skills.
“I’ve been really proud of her because she just shows a lot of responsibility when it comes to her job,” Powell said of Kiana.
On February 23, Powell was awarded the Texas Big Sister of the year. She is pictured in the photo above (middle), next to Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director Melissa Corely (left) and her Little Sister Kiana (right).
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock is one of United Way's 23 Community Partner Agencies. Your donation to United Way helps Big Brothers Big Sisters match children Kiana with mentors like Keri, to provide them with positive role models.
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