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Constistency Is Key To Successful Big/Little Relationships

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Big Brothers Big Sisters
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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh are celebrating 50 years in the region.

When Kara Olsen’s father died while she was growing up in Cincinnati,  a void was left in her family. Luckily, one organization was there to help fill that void; Big Brothers Big Sisters. Now a part of the Pittsburgh branch, Olsen spoke with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer to tell her story of how having a big sister changed her life.

While Olsen initially did not get involved in the program, she said see her older brother and his “big” made her want to join.

Things started off rocky. Her first “big” quit after the first two weeks, claiming she couldn’t make the time commitment. Olsen describes the incident as “devastating” to her nine year old self. Fortunately her next “big” sister Kelly turned out to be in it for the long run. Olsen met Kelly when she was in 3rd grade; the two remained “little” and “big” all the way until Olsen had graduated high school.

“She would come to my events at school, she would come to things at church, and all the different events that I was involved in,” Olsen said. “It was just really nice to have someone to go out with on a weekly basis.”

She said the fact she could talk to Kelly about things she could not say to her mom was very important to her.

Her “big sister” even inspired Olsen to move out of her home city. Olsen said that she once accompanied Kelly to “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” and seeing her big sister working in an expensive office building showed her that she could go anywhere.

“That was a very important part of me growing up and realizing there were things that I could do, other places I could go,” Olsen said.

Now Olsen is a college student in Pittsburgh and has become a “big sister” herself. She is also serving on the Young Professionals Outreach Board, which recruits mentors for the organization.

Olsen says she’s very happy serving as a big sister and providing for the next generation. Without the program, she believes many children “wouldn’t be going to college, they wouldn’t be doing their homework at night.” Meanwhile, Olsen’s little sister already know what college she wants to go to.

In the end, Olsen stated that the most important thing is that a “big” has a consistent presence in their “little’s” life.

“It really doesn’t matter, as long as you are there,” Olsen said.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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