Kent students can make ‘big’ difference

Leslie Schelat

Junior education major Amy Boyd and her “little” Kali plant flowers together.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Kali’s smile says it all.

Perched on the edge of the couch, she enthusiastically recollects the adventures she has had with her big sister, junior education major Amy Boyd.

The chatty 9 year old remembers watching movies in Boyd’s dorm and going miniature golfing. They went horseback riding at Kali’s grandfather’s and visited Boyd’s family in Youngstown.

What is different about these sisters is that they do not share a home or the same family.

What they do share is equally important, a fact reflected on Kali’s face.

Boyd is Kali’s “big” in the Big Brothers and Sisters of Portage County mentoring program.

Almost every week, Boyd spends several hours with her “little,” developing what Kali’s mother, Angie, describes as an important and consistent relationship. Boyd has attended Kali’s school concerts and a Young Author’s Conference, and even volunteered at her class picnic.

Although she always knew the program existed, Angie did not sign Kali up for Big Brothers and Sisters until her father passed away.

“When her dad died, I thought it would be good for her to have someone else to talk to,” Angie said.

And talk they did. Since October, when Boyd became Kali’s big sister, Angie has noticed a change in her daughter.

“Her attitude is better,” Angie said. “She would lash out all the time and had a temper. She still lashes out, but it’s not as constant.”

Boyd found out about Big Brothers and Sisters from a friend of her roommate’s who participated in the program. The interaction with children has also been a good experience for her future career.

“She’s always been good with her brother,” Boyd’s father, Bob, said. He added that having a brother 10 years younger helps Amy relate to her little sister.

Now that school is out and she is living at home in Youngstown, Boyd still makes the drive to Ravenna so her time with Kali is uninterrupted.

“I like that I have someone to talk to, especially in the summer,” said Kali as she waited for the day’s trip to the swimming pool.

Both Kali and Boyd plan on continuing their big/little relationship in the future. Boyd’s commitment is important to Angie.

“It’s good to get your kids involved with other role models,” Angie said. “I think the more consistent the better.”

For information on being a big or a little, contact Ron Kilchenman, associate director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Portage County, at (330) 296-6655.

Contact social services reporter Leslie Schelat at [email protected].