31 Days of Nashville – Big Brothers Big Sisters

19 - Big Brothers Big Sisters

At one point or another, I’m sure you’ve heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters in some form or fashion. If not, let me introduce it to you and share my story. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization in numerous areas throughout the US. The program is mentor-based where an adult can mentor a child who might need a positive influence in his or her life. Before I was involved with the program, I always had the idea that it was for kids who might not have one or both parents alive or in their lives, but that’s not always the case. Children are usually identified through teachers and educators in the child’s school as someone who could benefit with some one-on-one time with an influential adult.

I became part of Big Brothers Big Sisters almost 5 years ago. I was recently divorced at the time and had heard about a few experiences that my work supervisor had with her Little Sister. I’ve always been a fan of volunteer work, and I was looking for something to do with my time other than working and dating.

The interview process has multiple levels so that you are more likely matched with a child who can get the most out of an adult with common interests. They carefully match kids with adults and never press it on too fast just because they have unmatched kids and unmatched adults. I applied in October of 2008 but wasn’t matched until April of 2009.

There are more women volunteers and more male kids needing to match, so it’s not always a Big Sister with a Little Sister or a Big Brother with a Little Brother. Some women prefer having a Little Brother for various reasons, usually because they grew up in a house with more boys, so it doesn’t have to always fit into some standard scenario. In the class that I took to learn about being a mentor, we learned it’s more about how you bond with people. I knew early on that I wanted a Little Sister.

Another misconception is that you are only matched with kids missing a parent of the same gender as the mentor. In my case, I was matched with a Little Sister whose mother was (and still is) a great mother to her two kids. I was not taking the place of an absent mother. I admit that it was a little odd at first, given the misconception that I had, but it was soon apparent that my Little Sister might not need another female role model in her life, but having any role model was a positive experience.

My Little Sister was introduced to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because her older brother was in the program, and she felt like she was missing out on something awesome if her brother was getting to go out and do things with his Big Brother. I soon learned that my time with my Little Sister gave her some one-on-one time with an adult, where our time was about doing something she enjoyed. It also allowed her mom to have some one-on-one time with my Little Sister’s brother while I was out with my Little Sister. It ended up being beneficial to everyone.

Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, we attended many events sponsored by, through or because of the program. We attended picnics, skating parties, craft parties, hockey games and nature outings all because of our connection with the program. Not everything you do with your Little Sister or Little Brother is free, but they generally try to help you find low cost outings. It doesn’t have to be expensive, so don’t let that deter you from looking into mentoring a kid. It really is all about spending some quality time with a kid. Many matches enjoy sports, reading or other adventures together. My Little Sister and I have done lots and lots of crafts together.

My Little Sister and I are still together, almost 5 years later. We’re no longer matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, because she moved to another county, but we still do things together at least once a month. One thing I have learned through this entire experience is that it is not only about what my Little Sister gets out of my mentoring her, but it is also about what I get out of being her mentor and learning from her, as well. The experience has been tremendously great for me, just as much as it has been for her. I am truly blessed because she and her family are in my life.

I encourage you to think about what you might be able to offer in mentoring a kid. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee information is below, but there is most likely a program in your area through another Big Brothers Big Sisters group or other similar mentor programs.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
1704 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 130
Nashville, Tennessee 37203
(615) 329-9191

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Nashville Rollergirls

12 - Nashville Rollergirls

The Nashville Rollergirls are Nashville’s finest women on wheels. The roller derby of the 70’s and 80’s has made a comeback in the last 5 years or so, and it has turned into quite an athletic sport. It’s highly competitive, but it’s not quite the hair-pulling, name-calling, catty sport of 30 years ago. It’s much more civilized now.

I am not a sports enthusiast AT.ALL. You won’t find me watching football on the weekends or baseball during the World Series or any other sport, but there’s something about roller derby that changed that, at least when it comes to watching roller derby. The first bout I attended was in 2009 after seeing an event posted at a pizza place in town. It was shortly after my birthday, and I told David that I wanted to go for my birthday. At that time, the Rollergirls played at the sports arena at the Nashville Fairgrounds. The audience was such a grand mix of people from all ages and groups that I never once felt out of place. Oh, and the derby bout was an amazing experience. I was hooked!

Since that first bout, we have seen the Nashville Rollergirls compete with women from other cities all over the US. Their fan base has outgrown the fairgrounds arena, and moved to the Municipal Auditorium where there’s more room for more people without being crowded on bleachers.

It takes watching a few bouts to really understand the rules of the game, but what sport isn’t without complicated rules? Once we started to understand the rules, we really got into the competition and started identifying our favorite players from the Nashville team, like Lady Fury, Hildabeast and Ramb0 Samb0 (Hildabeast has retired and Ramb0 Samb0 moved from the area).

For the younger girls ages 10-17, there’s also the Nashville Junior Roller Derby team. They play some during halftime at the Nashville Rollergirls bouts, and it’s amazing to see them play, too!

This year’s roller derby season is over, but you can catch them again next year starting in February through August for regular games and September for playoffs.

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Little Black Dress Club

5 - Little Black Dress Club

Photo Credit – Shay Ashcraft

While it’s not exclusive to Nashville, I am part of the Nashville Chapter of the Little Black Dress Club. I joined this time last year, but it has been a very full year of new experiences, new adventures and new friends. I first looked into joining about a year prior to actually going to an event. I found the club through Meetup and watched for their events, but they never seemed to be during times that I could go or social anxiety would get the best of me, and I would fear not feeling like I fit in.

My first event was a simple game night at the home of one of the co-directors. I made my co-worker go with me so that I would have someone to talk to just in case I felt out of place. Within the first hour, all those fears were gone, and I knew I had found a great group of women that I’d enjoy getting to know.

The Little Black Dress Club has been a great way to get me out of the house and go places that I probably wouldn’t go on my own. Some people find it hard to believe that I am an introvert, but there are times that I will try to talk myself out of going places (club events and just other general things going on in life that I MIGHT have a choice in attending). I know that most of the time I will have a good time once I actually get out of the house, but taking that first step out the door is by far the hardest sometimes. I can go on and on about being an introvert, and I actually have written about it on more than a few occasions. I’m not saying that the Little Black Dress Club has “cured” me of being an introvert, because there’s nothing wrong AT ALL with being an introvert, but I am thankful when I do go out and have experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I let it get the best of me and stayed home.

The past few months, I’ve broadened my experiences with the club by going on a multi-chapter road trip to Chicago to meet other members from other chapters, like Columbus, Detroit and Chicago. In addition to the Chicago trip, we’ve also went Glamping, wine tasting, had several Girl’s Night Out dinners, and a few brunches. Just to give you an idea of some other events we’ve had in Nashville and the other chapters, be sure to check out the blog. I happen to know one of the contributors of the blog very well…ahem, it’s me 🙂

So if you don’t live in Nashville, there might be a chapter near you. And if you decide to join, let me know and maybe we can road trip to visit your chapter or invite you to one of the Nashville Chapter events when you’re in town!

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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