Jenna and Natalie have spent three years building a strong relationship at our partner site, Girls, Inc.
When Natalie first met Jenna in January of 2013 she was an extremely shy kindergartener. Jenna comes from a single-parent, low-income home and her mother, Rene, was concerned that she was not confident and had trouble making friends. Natalie, a senior at The College of the Holy Cross, studying English, had a very different upbringing. She has a twin brother and an older brother. They grew up together in Long Island, New York. Natalie says that she has learned a great deal from watching Jenna. Natalie’s mom did not have to work while she was growing up and Natalie didn’t have to navigate things like after school programs the way Jenna does.
Despite coming from different places, Natalie and Jenna have built a strong relationship. Over the past three years Natalie has worked with Jenna to help her become a confident, happy child. Natalie says that Jenna has become a bright, bubbly little girl and she cannot believe how much she has matured with age. “Our conversations used to consist of me asking her questions, but now she isn’t afraid to be the one to start and maintain a conversation. She is so much more confident.” Each week at Girls, Inc. Natalie and Jenna play sports and work on math homework. Natalie is proud to see Jenna’s interests in subjects and careers that are often male dominated. Natalie also likes that Jenna is interested in sports because Natalie has always loved to be in the gym. Natalie says that mentoring with BBBS CM/MW has meant a great deal to her. “Sometimes you get wrapped up in your selfish college life. Being with Jenna each week helps me focus on what’s really important. I’ve learned as much from her as she has from me.”
Jenna’s mother, Rene, cannot believe the changes she has seen in Jenna. Rene wanted Jenna to make friends and overcome her social anxiety. Jenna has experience huge social expansion. Rene says Jenna will never miss a day at Girls, Inc. because she enjoys being there so much and wants to see Natalie. Natalie has also encouraged Jenna to think bigger about her life. Jenna talks all the time about going to Holy Cross like Natalie and being a college student. “BBBS CM/MW and Natalie are the best things that could have happened to Jenna. I had no idea the bond between them would be so strong. They truly are what sisters should be.”
“Jenna shows me the importance of living in the moment and finding happiness in simple things. She teaches me the value of one hour and how spending time with others can be empowering for everyone. Spending time with others for service is a service for volunteers too, and it’s essential to our own growth.” -Natalie