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Big Brothers Big Sisters is celebrating National Mentoring Month

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara, and the Southern Tier is looking for volunteers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For Thursday's Most Buffalo Story of the Day, we visited Big Brothers Big Sisters to celebrate National Mentoring Month.

Kelly Dudzik: We're here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara & the Southern Tier with Big Sister Melissa and Little Sister Mikayla today to celebrate National Mentoring Month for the entire month of January. So first off, let's get the basics. How long ago were you first paired together?

Melissa: Eight years.

Kelly: Wow, eight years, so how old were you when you first were paired?

Mikayla: I was nine when I met her. I was turning ten when we had our first meeting.

Kelly: Wow, so what inspired you to volunteer and become a Big Sister?

Melissa: I've always volunteered with work. I've been part of the volunteer committee for the last 15 years that I've worked there, and I've always wanted to do something on my own outside of the office and I was talking with one of our attorneys one day and she said she was a Big Sister. I went to a mixer, and met everyone. Thought it was a great organization and the rest is history.

Kelly: What did you first think when you were paired with your Big Sister?

Mikayla: I was just like, what are we going to do? What is this about? Because I was the little sibling, I was always, I'm the baby, so I'm like who is this? Is she like a nanny or something and then my mom explained to me, like, no she's just going to show you things that she couldn't because my mom was a single mom working, so she couldn't really do stuff, but I met her and we just clicked and after that, I never left her side.

Kelly: How has she inspired you throughout the years?

Mikayla: I'm a closed off person. I don't like to open up to people, so she taught me how to open up and actually to express how I'm feeling and not to shut down and she actually taught me how to change my attitude. Learn how to be more respectful of more adults instead of just like being that disobedient child, but learn how to be a better young woman with her because of her.

Kelly: So she's helped you mature. (Yeah.) Have you heard that before? Have you guys talked about that before?

Melissa: A little bit, but it's nice to hear it in person.

Kelly: Absolutely. How have you grown since you started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

Melissa: We have a lot of fun, like, I could pass out water at a charity run, but like to actually be helping someone mature, and grow, and be someone that another person can rely on, and watching them become an amazing young adult, responsible, and excited about school, it's been great.

Kelly: What are some of your favorite memories of things you've done together?

Mikayla: I was going to say when we used to go to the movies all the time, going to Olive Garden, I like pasta, going to the zoo, because we're animal lovers, and then just like going to her house and actually just spending time. Just the quality time of being around her. I would have never thought that me being 10, 11, 12 and older, being best friends with an adult, but it goes to show that friendship isn't age, like, you know who you bond with. We get along so well, and I would have never thought being 10 I'm going to be friends with her, but we're like best friends. That's like my sister. My mom loves her, so it's like it's great.

Melissa: It's the time. It's the quality time together.

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