Colin Dacy is the youngest of three, but he’s always wanted a little brother.
So, when the Waxahachie High School senior found out he had the chance to mentor an elementary student, he made sure to have two class periods dedicated to time for his Little Brother.
It wasn’t long before he and his Little Brother, a fifth-grader, bonded, he said.
“I only have so long I can be up there with him before I have to go to class,” Dacy said. “I’d tell him, ‘It’s time for me to go, bud,’ and he’d just look so sad. That’s something I’ll always keep with me, knowing that I had an impact that early on.”
Dacy is one of 11 Waxahachie High School students who is mentoring to WISD elementary students this year. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County partnered with Waxahachie Independent School District a year ago. The pilot year for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Teen Big Initiative has been considered a success with the number of high school participating increasing the second year, said Debra DeNicola, Waxahachie High School community service program coordinator.
With January being Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring month, some of the students shared what they’ve learned in the program.
“The high school students just become very involved with those kids lives, they’re deeply touched by what they’re contributing and what they get from that child, and it has a snowball effect,” she said.
Senior Madison Henry has not one, but two elementary students she mentors — a first-grader and a fifth-grader, one out-going, the other shy.
“I’ve always loved little kids, I have two older brothers,” Henry said. “I know that it’s wonderful having an good influence in my life. That’s what my brothers have been all my life, so I wanted to be that for somebody else.”
The days spent playing board games and attending classes with her Little Sisters has even made Henry consider a possible career in teaching, though she said she’s always wanted to be a stenographer.
“It’s not only fun for the kids, it’s fun for me, too,” she said. “I have a blast, it makes me feel good, and I hope that it makes them feel good. I was actually thinking about maybe teaching, and I’ve never thought about teaching. Both my parents are teachers, but I never thought about it myself.”
Many of the Littles started off as shy and quiet when they first met their Bigs, said Julie Thompson, the Ellis County Big Brothers Big Sisters match support specialist. She interviews all of the volunteers and matches them up with the proper children, as well as checks in by phone or school visits, she said.
“Now, the Littles can’t quit talking about their Bigs and the high school seniors just can’t get over how much they have in common and how well they click together,” Thompson said. “We hope next year to be able to get into the community service classes again and recruit more volunteers.”
For Hank Perkins, his Little Brother’s laugh is infectious, he said, especially when it comes to a game of one-on-one basketball.
The game has been their constant connection since Perkins joined the initiative in September. He mentors a fourth-grader at Northside Elementary.
“When he smiles it makes me smile, whenever he’s having trouble in class, I want to help him out right away,” Perkins said. “It gives you something more than just the day-to-day monotony of school. It’s more than just going to class, take notes, come home and do homework. It’s now, there’s something meaningful happening in the middle of the day.”