GREENSBURG – Allison Raisch, nine-year-old second grader at Greensburg Elementary School, is the youngest child in her house.
Allison, who also goes by Ally, has an older sister and step-brother to look up to, though her brother doesn’t live in the same house. When Ally’s parents came to her and asked if she wanted to be in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Decatur County (BBBS) program, she said yes and was assigned a “big sister.”
Ally and Lori Osting will celebrate their one year mark for being matched as big and little sisters through BBBS this week. The Daily News spoke with them to learn more about their relationship and the benefits it has provided to both of them.
Since being matched, the two have met once weekly, usually for four hours each time. Lori often picks up Allison, who also goes by Ally, after school. The two then spend a few hours together and eat dinner before Ally goes home. Over the last year, the two have developed a close bond that both say is important to them.
Lori works at the Greensburg Public Library and, after picking up Ally, the two usually go there to work on Ally’s homework. When her schoolwork is done, they eat dinner and go to Lori’s house, where they play with Legos or find another way to spend time together until Ally goes home.
While being a BBBS mentor doesn’t require the big brothers or sisters to spend a lot of money on the littles, occasionally, mentors choose to treat their little siblings. In the time Lori and Ally have been partnered, they have visited the Newport Aquarium, gone to many summer reading events at the library, swam at the public pool, walked along the Cincinnati Riverfront, taken a trip to Lake Monroe and spent time gardening, painting and teaching Ally to ride her bike. Many of these events were chronicled in the scrapbook Lori made to commemorate the year the two have spent together.
Ally couldn’t pin down a favorite thing she’s done with Lori, instead saying, “There were lots of things I liked.” Ally added that she was just as happy playing with Legos at Lori’s house as she was going to the movies.
Lori, however, said her favorite activity would have to be dressing up and going to see “The Nutcracker” for Christmas. Lori mentioned that she and Ally didn’t get to spend much time together over the holidays due to the extreme weather. Both Lori and Ally said their first time back together after the holidays was special because they missed each other.
When asked why she became a mentor, Lori said, “I was a big sister to a teenager in Bloomington. When I settled down in Greensburg, I decided I wanted to do it again, from the beginning. I love the time I spend with Allison. I love reading with her and watching her grow, learn and blossom.”
Ally said she would like to become a big sister when she is older because she would like to “spend time with someone and help them.”
Lori said she plans to continue mentoring. She and Ally have promised to stay in contact with each other through their lives, updating each other with the triumphs and sorrows that come along with living.
Many changes have occurred in Ally since being involved in BBBS. Lori said she has seen Ally’s reading improve. She also said Ally was shy when they were first partnered, but has since gained confidence and is shy no longer. Ally’s New Year’s resolution was to learn to ride her bike without training wheels, which the duo plan to start working on when the warmer weather returns.
The big/little sister relationship has been beneficial to both women. Ally said she loves being a little sister because, “I get to have fun… and go swimming.”
Lori said her favorite part of being a mentor is knowing Allison. “She’s a great kid.”
BBBS is always looking for mentors, as there are far more children waiting to be matched than there are available mentors. Lori encourages everyone to consider being a mentor to a little brother or sister.
“I think people have this idea that it takes a ton of time and work. But if you have a couple hours a week, it’s not that big of a time commitment and it’s a lot of fun,” Lori said. “I get to play with Legos.”
Anyone interested in becoming a big sibling to a child in Decatur County should contact BBBS at 663-7556. There are a variety of programs available with different levels of involvement and time commitment.
BBBS will also be hosting Bowl for Kids’ Sake March 2, at Parkside Lanes. This is the chief fundraiser for BBBS and its importance cannot be understated. Whether one chooses to get involved as a mentor or simply as a generous donor, every person can make a difference in the life of a local child.
Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org