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500 by 500: Big Brothers Big Sisters driven to recruit more mentors

Big Brothers Big Sisters 500 by 500
Posted at 8:12 AM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 19:40:26-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana is hoping to get 500 “Bigs” to sign up to be mentors by the Indy 500 on May 28.

The organization says there are more than a thousand kids waiting for a bigs here in Central Indiana.

Those interested in becoming a mentor must be at least 19 years old, and also must pass a background check. The yearlong commitment requires bigs to meet with their littles 2 to 4 times each month.

Inside Indy recently spoke to several Big Brothers Big Sisters Matches of the Year here in central Indiana.

Match of the Year: Aerail & Maggie

500 by 500: Aerail & Maggie

Aerail remembers her first impression of her big, Maggie Pollard, like it was yesterday.

“Who is this white woman,” Aerail said.

The pair was matched in November 2015, and while they’re all smiles today, their initial relationship was a different story.

“Aerail did not like me our first 2 years together,” Pollard said. “But now, over time, we’re family.”

It was a journey that took time. But as each of their families began to intermingle, Pollard and Aerail's relationship blossomed. Aerail was even a bridesmaid at Pollard’s wedding.

“I have three moms,” Aerail said.

“Aerail has made my life so much better,” Pollard said. “It’s been an honor to be in her life and a part of her life these last few years, and now for a lifetime.”

Match of the Year: Jamira & Whitney Holmes

500 by 500: Jamira & Whitney Holmes

Jamira and Whitney Holmes were matched more than a decade ago, and they both say they’ve grown a lot during that time.

“In the beginning, you’re just trying to form that relationship,” Holmes said. “Then all of a sudden, you don’t have to work at it.”

And it’s no longer work for either woman.

“I think they would be surprised at how easy it is,” Holmes said.

Despite its ease, Jamira says having a big sister has changed her life.

“I feel like it’s a good way for kids to connect with their true selves,” Jamira said. “When you are facing so much in the world, to know that you have one person rooting for you, that makes a complete change.”

That change means you have to be willing to open yourself up to a complete stranger.

“She knows everything about me,” Jamira said. “It’s honestly quite weird, but I love it!”

Holmes loves it too.

“I think adults need it too, to be a kid again.”

Match of the Year: Xavier & Joshua Lazenby

500 by 500: Xavier & Joshua Lazenby

Joshua Lazenby remembers that when he first met Xavier in 2018, their conversations required a little work.

“I would always have to ask him questions.” Lazenby said.

But things have changed.

“Now he jumps in the car and already has a few things he wants to talk about,” Lazenby said. “I barely have to do anything.”

While it might not feel like work, Lazenby knows he’s making a difference.

“It’s a small commitment that has a huge impact on someone’s life,” Lazenby said.

It’s an impact Xavier knows firsthand.

“It’s definitely been one of my best experiences in general,” Xavier said. “I think it’s just a great experience for everybody because you learn so much you teach someone else and you don’t even realize you’re teaching them and then you learn a lot and it makes everything better.”

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