Photos by: Jessica Adams
For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping to change kids’ perspective to give them the opportunity to reach their full potential. Each time Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs a child with a role model, something incredible starts: a one-to-one relationship built on trust and friendship. One such relationship started in Highlands County in 2005.
Carol Pacheco, a Dental Hygienist from Lake Placid, found that once her son turned 16, she missed being a part of his life. She missed chaperoning trips for school, going to sporting events and the like. She turned to a school program called Take Stock in Children. This academic-based program pairs a mentor with a student with the hopes of positively motivating the student to set goals and aim for college and success.
Through a series of events, Carol was paired with a 7th grade girl named Karla. However, as summer approached, they knew they would no longer be able to spend time together since the program they were part of called for interaction at school. They found a solution to this problem with the Big Brother Big Sister organization. They joined the program together and began a wonderful and enriching relationship.
“Big Brother Big Sister has been an amazing program to be a part of,” Carol said. Karla became like an extension of Carol’s family, and was always included for holidays and outings. On the other hand, Carol became a part of Karla’s life as she reached various school activities and milestones in her life. “She is the reason I have photos and memories of those times… she was always there,” recalls Karla. Carol was proud to see her graduate in 2011. Karla is now enrolled in SFSC and is pursuing a career as a Paramedic.
However, Carol’s mentoring journey didn’t end there. Yes, she still spends time with Karla; but she is also mentoring Rosy, a precious first grade girl. To take on another Little Sister was a big decision for Carol as she also currently cares for her mother at home.
When Big Brother Big Sister called to see if she would mentor, she originally turned them down. After two weeks and a lot of prayer, she decided to call to see if the Little Sister was still looking for a Big Sister. “She was in kindergarten and I always wanted to start at the beginning with a child, so I said I would.”
Carol usually sees Rosy at least once a week, and has started taking her to a weekly dance class. Carol greatly enjoys her time spent with Rosy as well as her brother (who is also in the program). Carol smiles. “She’s just like a little princess,”.
The thing that warms my heart the most is the sparkle in Carol’s eye when she talks about Karla and Rosy. You can see the love and admiration she has for them, they are just an extended part of her family. Carol said it best, “it’s a lifetime friendship”.
For information how you can donate or become a mentor, please visit www.bbbs.or