Houston woman makes big impact on her ‘little one’ via Big Brother Big Sister program

Shelby and Re’Nah pictured at a Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) gala.

Meet Shelby Edmoundson, winner of the Daily Point of Light Award. Read her story and nominate an exceptional volunteer or family as a daily point of light.

Shelby Edmoundson’s volunteering is all about quality time, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant, says the 30-year-old Houston, Texas resident. “Sometimes we go to the car wash or to church together, other times we go to the skating rink.

It’s times like these, spending quality time with her big brother big sister (BBBS) mentee, that Shelby is building on the bond the two have formed over nearly seven years of service. As the largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network in the country, BBBS establishes meaningful and supervised matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) ages 5 to young adults in the communities across the country. Through volunteerism, Shelby contributes to the essential social and emotional development needed to build resilience and promote the mental health and well-being of thousands of children served across America.

What inspires you to volunteer?

Service was molded for me growing up. Volunteering has always been very important in my community. Government and social services are essential and can make a difference, but for my volunteer role in particular, one-on-one mentoring of young people in our cities is the work of the community.

Describe your volunteering with BBBS.

As a volunteer, I connect with my Petite, Re’Nah, a few times a month, ideally in person. We connect regularly, I stay in tune with her and her family, I take her for outings or to go out. You also work in partnership with the guardian or parent, as many families are single-family homes, adding extra adult presence and support for the child and (for the parent.) Over our nearly seven-year game , I watched Re’Nah grow from a shy 8-year-old to a brave 15-year-old. We celebrated academic achievements and dreamed of what the future might hold as she transitions into adulthood in a few years.

Through volunteerism, Shelby contributes to the essential social and emotional development needed to build resilience and promote the mental health and well-being of thousands of children served by BBBS across America./Courtesy of Shelby Edmoundson

Share with me a personal story of your volunteering.

Re’Nah had trouble reading a few years ago. I really encouraged her and we did our own reading project over the summer. After that summer, she asked me if I could attend an awards ceremony honoring her progress and achievement in reading. It was really cool and tangible. I wasn’t doing the work, but letting her know she’s capable and seeing her potential blossom was really special.

Why do you think it is important for others to get involved?

Everyone feels better when they help other people, whether it’s giving people directions or something like (my service) that impacts someone over a period of years. We are part of this global community and helping each other helps us thrive. We are all built in different circumstances, some more difficult than others. It is important to recognize and help others who face more challenges to succeed.

What has been the most rewarding part of your service?

Most volunteers have the same thought: I get a lot more out of it than I put into it. I got to know their family well and they are now an extension of my family. It’s extremely rewarding, an extension of family that frankly comes from a different community than mine. For me, it is essential in my faith to love others and take care of those around us. (I) put a lot of time and effort into the life of a young person because there were a lot of people in my life who did that for me, to make me feel empowered and capable.

As a Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) volunteer, Shelby Edmoundson watched her ‘little’ Re’Nah grow from a shy 8-year-old to a brave 15-year-old./Courtesy of Shelby Edmoundson

How have you continued to volunteer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’ve spoken quite often during the pandemic, there have been tearful conversations from both of us. The times were confusing and difficult for adults, but I think we underestimate how difficult and difficult it was for children. There have been difficult but also sweet times, acknowledging the bond and friendship we have. In addition to communicating by phone, I’ve sent her packages with coloring books and art supplies to keep her busy and have things to do rather than staying home and watching TV due to school closures. schools.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

Don’t be afraid to go out and commit to something. Some people’s lives only allow them to engage in occasional volunteer opportunities. I was looking for something relational in nature that would have a profound impact.

In a nutshell, what does volunteering mean to you?

Community.

How can readers help?

If readers know of a young person in their community who could benefit from BBBS mentoring, please nominate them to be Littles. For more information, please visit the big brother big sister website.

Want to make a difference in your community like Shelby Edmoundson? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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