I can often be heard saying that I have the absolute best job ever! And I couldn’t have felt that in a more impactful and proud way than I experienced the evening of April 26th. A night of fun, laughter, dancing, tears, hugs and all to honor and celebrate the Big Brothers Big Sisters Class of 2018.
I couldn’t help but reflect back in time a bit as the celebration was happening. I thought about the early days of the ACES program and the excitement of being a part of creating programming and support that I can only describe as “off the charts”. I am so proud of this agency for stepping up just a few short years ago with great intention and creating the ACES program specifically designed to support middle and high school students as they navigate the exciting, yet many times stressful journey of high school and beyond. The beauty of it is that not only do we provide students with mentors, but also wraparound programming and support to help them grow as people, students, friends and community members. We are dedicated to supporting these students beyond high school graduation and until they reach their post-secondary goals.
Then it dawned on me that the Class of 2018 were bright eyed freshman at the same time that the ACES program was building momentum and becoming what it is today. And, while these young adults are beginning a new journey and will continue their growth and learning…so will the ACES program. Our biggest intention for every single student we have the honor of knowing is that they soar, reach their wildest dreams and in the words of the amazing Chandra Clark, Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless!
The highlight of the night was listening to each graduate share their future goals and plans, how their mentor has impacted their life and a few of their favorite memories. To hear the words that these youngsters shared many times left their mentors, parents and our staff with misty eyes. Some of the students were nervous, some were born to be on stage with a mic in hand, but the message that they shared was consistent and beautiful. They are thankful and feel blessed! They gained a new friend from someone who was a stranger one day and in their life the next! Words were spoken like “at just the right time”, “You changed my life”, “I love you”, “I want to make the world a better place”…and that is the impact of a life changing friendship!
From all of us at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, Congratulations to all of the high school and college graduates of 2018.
Caleb (Arthur) Anderson
Dai Shaun Isaiah