Intertwined

After a somewhat hectic start to my summer placement, I’m finally settled in and starting to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and its mission as well as how I personally contribute to the organization in support of its goals.

Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on providing meaningful one-to-one mentoring relationships to kids who have self-identified, or have been identified by a parent, as potentially being able to benefit from the presence of an adult mentor.  Big Brothers and Big Sisters, under the traditional mentoring model, commit to spending a few hours a week with their Little, engaging in fun and enriching activities.  The program targets 6-14 year olds and seeks to make matches that will be lasting and mutually beneficial.
Along with Karen, the other DukeEngager here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle (BBBST), I have been learning the ins and outs and the nuances of operations of this particular branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters.  We came into the agency at an exciting, and at times, challenging moment for BBBST.  Presently, much of the agency focus is on the consolidation of the Durham, Wake, and Orange County branches into a single office building in Morrisville (about 25 minutes away from Durham) at the end of June.  Karen and I are not yet sure what the move will mean for us, since many of the employees will have to work from home for a bit because the furniture for the new building won’t arrive until after the current offices close.  At the moment, we are in limbo and have heard different things from different people–I think we are both looking forward to getting the final word about what we’ll be doing–and where we’ll be doing it–for the last two and a half weeks of our time here.
Right now, the work I am doing is in support of BBBST’s “Healthy Child Initiative,” which focuses on promoting more recreational activities for the Bigs and Littles to do together.  I assisted my supervisor in coordinating and planning some of the logistics of the new SwingPals program, which provides free golf lessons at local golf clubs for boys who are still on the waiting list for a Big Brother.  I’ve also compiled a comprehensive list of recreational events in Durham through November (including Durham Bulls games, community recreational events, and combination educational/recreational events).  After noticing that the park locator tool for Durham public parks is a bit lacking in terms of user-friendliness, I worked on creating a comprehensive map that would allow for better search capabilities.  You can check out the map I made by going here: http://batchgeo.com/map/8e6120749b5fa58801680941fe8d03d1.  The map is certainly better than the existing resource, but it’s also not as good as it could be (I lack the coding and technical knowledge to make it the way I had originally envisioned it).  Maybe in the future, someone with more coding ability will be able to use it as a starting point for an improved version.  I also made a similar map for Wake County and made both of the maps I created (along with an already-published comprehensive locator for Orange County) and my event calendar–available on BBBST’s internal network as a resource for the Bigs.  Hopefully, these new resources will encourage Bigs to promote healthy lifestyles for their Littles by increasing access to relevant recreational information.

Danish from Ninth Street Bakery

Karen and I have decided that even though we bring our lunches most of the time, we’re going to start taking our lunch hour to explore our immediate surroundings.  Yesterday we walked to Ninth Street Bakery where I got coffee and a blueberry cream cheese danish (pictured–sorry for the poor quality…I didn’t have my camera on me so I needed to use my phone because this was too good to not document!).  Then we walked a little further to Blue Coffee Cafe so that Karen could get a cold drink (much-needed in this Durham heat!).  Today we went back to Ninth Street Bakery to meet up with some other DukeEngagers for lunch, which is just down the street from us.  Ninth Street Bakery is a working bakery that also serves lunch on the side–so we were treated to incredible smells while we ate.  I had the fresh gazpacho and an amazing double chocolate chip cookie while others got sandwiches and the Wednesday-only special…everyone raved about their food and some people got day-old bread to take back with them.  We’ll definitely be back there soon!
Over lunch, the other DukeEngagers and I were talking about our respective work and we realized that my Durham Parks map could potentially aid them in their project (with the Durham YMCA), so I sent it over to them.  It was a nice way to realize that many of our nonprofit placements are closely related and, ultimately, we are all serving the same community.
  -Elizabeth
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