“Four of my kids have been involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. I think we started about 13 years ago. I was working at the middle school when I heard about it. They matched my kids up perfectly. They can open up children in different ways and show them different sides of the community, including art galleries and museums. They help kids on the ACT and take them to the Senior Bowl. Aimee Risser mentored my daughter until she graduated from college at the Citadel last May. Aimee gave her so many experiences. Now she is a Big Sister for my youngest daughter.
Five or six years ago, I got Multiple Sclerosis. It made me stop so many things. It has been hard to get by sometimes because my income stopped. I don’t complain, I just deal with it the best way I can. Keeping involved in Big brothers Big Sisters has given me a different avenue for help.
I stay positive and try not to let my kids me at my downfall. With MS, every day is something. Lately have been a few more bad days. I am often on a walker or in wheelchair and can’t get around like I used to. I take a break, then stand back up. I make sure my kids get to where they need to be. They aren’t going to miss out on anything.
I am a single mother of seven kids. The oldest two graduated from college and have been working in their fields for a few years. My kids know what my expectations are and I planted good seeds a long time ago. There is no time for a break during the summer. They need to do some type of enrichment. I don’t believe in idle time or couch potatoes. I want them to work well with others. I am so proud of my kids. They keep my mind going. They all pitch in where they need to. I don’t want to ever hear the words can’t or boring.
Big Brothers Big Sisters added the Big Neighbors program during the Coronavirus. They have left groceries on my porch and helped me with errands I couldn’t do. They have helped me in so many ways.
I have a house first of athletes and they are all home right now. My daughter is on the track team at Alabama. She just broke the state record in discus and javelin. My son plays football at Mississippi State. He was supposed to be up there now, but things have changed because of the Coronavirus. I make sure they are all eating right and doing their workouts to stay in shape. I was once Coach Kim in the evenings. I may not be on the front row for their events like I used to be, but I still go. I may pay for it a few days later, but I am going to be there. I make a little call and they hear me. Our family supports each other. I will be at Mississippi State as much as I can. I give them pep talks to push them on. When I can’t be there physically, I am there mentally.
Tim Dunn has been my son’s mentor since 6th grade. Mr Dunn is still involved and goes to the football games. His family has embraced and loved my son. My daughter has Ms. Adele. They have been in touch since the first day. My kids are better people because their Bigs care about them. I teach my kids to always give back and pass this love down to someone who is less fortunate. They help the elderly in our neighborhood.
Life is a challenge. I have to lead by example. I want my kids to know that just because you have an illness, you can’t let it stop you. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep it moving. After I cook dinner, my energy level is gone. I can’t do more. I miss the energy I used to have, but God gives me the energy I need to keep going. He looks out for me every day. I am blessed.”
Our Southern Souls is partnering with the United Way of Southwest Alabama to raise $50,000 to get at least 2,020 kids off partner agencies’ waiting lists and into the programs they need. This will be more kids getting a Big Brother or Big Sister or into the Boys and Girls Clubs. More kids getting weekend backpack meals or fed through Feeding the Gulf Coast. It will help expand the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Mobile County and provide free books for kids. It will provide shelter to a few more families with kids, and help a few more mothers with children get away from domestic violence.
To give, text “2020 Pledge” to 41444 or go to www.uwswa.org.