SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Match of the Month
Story by Nancy Coggins
Photo by Pat Nowell


June 21, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - You'll experience an incredibly good feeling when you are matched with a "Little." And, you actually become a "Big Brother" or "Big Sister" within Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska - Ketchikan (BBBS SEAK - Ketchikan). All of a sudden, you feel so worthwhile. As a Big with your Little, you might start out by sharing simple, fun activities such as beachcombing for treasures: beach glass, "used" shells, rocks, and dried seaweed; looking at teaming-with-life tidal pools; planting flower seeds; picnicking and toasting marshmallows; picking berries; sitting on a rock or park bench and just "hanging out." You might meet to hike a trail, take a boat ride, or fly a kite.

As Big Sister Nancy to Little Sister Heather for over 1 1/2 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed our many adventures. As many Bigs have said, "It keeps me young." And Heather looks forward to all our weekly surprises and varied activities.

jpg Match of the Month

Heather & Nancy at Settlers Cove State Park on
Clover Passage, Revillagigedo Island
Little Moments. Big Magic.
Photograph by Pat Nowell

For Heather's parents, Heather's and my match has been "an answer to prayer." It means so much to them and to Heather, who is in the middle of a blended family. "To have a Big Sister who pays attention to only her, does things with only her, and is willing to take her on many new and exciting adventures."

While Heather's choosing an activity bolsters her self-esteem, it also is building good communication channels between us, strengthening our one-on-one relationship. Sometimes, out of the blue, she'll suggest a meeting like getting together during Spring Break. No matter what our activity, it's sharing some quality time together that creates Little Moments, Big Magic.

Many times, it's not our planned meeting that is so great but its sidetrack. For example, the aftermath of our recent Duck Tour became a time of playing on the rocks and taking photos in Eagle Park. Our hike around Ward Lake to walk and look at fauna and flora all of a sudden became focused on throwing peanuts beneath the trees for the animals. And a Crow's Nest dance turned into an all-night session of playing games. Littles lead the way.

If I spend some money on Heather, it's not the amount that counts. What's important here is the dialog between us while we purchase the item -- deciding what to buy and keeping within a monetary limit. Heather loves this active participation. Our spontaneous purchase of a cartoon book led to many happy, creative hours.

A glimpse of some of our activities. Most fun: Playing racquetball at the Rec Center, putting around the miniature golf course at the Ketchikan Entertainment Center, making chocolate-chip cookies, taking part in ice cream socials sponsored by BBBS of SEAK -- Ketchikan, photographing Heather's friends during school recess, and going to garage sales. Most laid-back: Painting, creating scrapbook pages, sharing lunchtime at school, viewing exhibits at both the Mainstay Gallery and Tongass Historical Museum, and eating at McDonald's. Most exerting: Hiking the Rainbird Trail; walking over, down around, and through the town's tunnel; playing on the Rec Center's playground equipment and then running around its indoor track; roller skating at the Rec Center during its training sessions; and hiking the one-mile Lunch Falls Loop Trail at Settlers Cove. [And, as you can imagine, I will be reminded forever about the one time I slipped on the trail!]

Most amazing meetings: Exploring a rocky beach, playing with hamsters, and attending the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Most rewarding: Making crafts and then eating cake and ice cream with the residents at a Pioneers' Home Intergenerational Party, and, another time, planting flowering plants and then playing bingo with the Seniors. And, the most creative: Painting a design for the Blueberry Arts Festival, and drawing black-light art with fluorescent markers at the Boys and Girls Club. Heather and I never know what we will discover around the next corner!

Sound like Fun? Join Big Brothers Big Sisters program for your own adventures and discoveries and help a child reach his potential. Bigs in the Ketchikan Community Program meet with their Littles two to four times a month, and they do whatever interests both of them. Get involved. Call 907-247-3350.


On the Web:

Match of the Month

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska


Nancy Coggins is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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