An Unlikely Friendship
Seven-year-old Cindy nervously lines up her putt. She keeps glancing from the bottom of her club to the hole, making sure that everything is perfect. In the background, she can hear her Big Sister, Brittney Henson, a 24-year-old volunteer at Big Brother Big Sister of America, cheer her on.
She moves the muscles in her arm and *clink* — it sinks into the first hole of their game of mini golf in Davenport, Iowa. She looks at Brittney with exciting eyes as they jump in celebration.
This is one of Brittney Henson and Cindy’s favorite memories with each other, but it has not always been this much fun and joy in each of their lives. Brittney Henson grew up in a small community in Southern Illinois. She moved to the Quad Cities area to work as an area coordinator for the Office of Residential Life at Augustana College.
She did not know anyone nor did she have a friend to hang out with. Homesick and missing her family, she called her parents every day.
It was not until a month after she moved to the Quad Cities that she found the answer to her problem: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. One of her co-workers suggested that Brittney apply to get a little in the area and soon after that, she matched with Cindy.
Brittney says, “she pushed me to fill out the application, so I went ahead to apply and actually got matched with my little, who was in first grade at the time.”
Their friendship first started as a school-based match. This means Brittney had permission to meet Cindy for lunch every two weeks. Brittney came and sat down with Cindy and her friends to hang out and eat lunch. They were even allowed to sometimes play in the board game room.
One of Cindy’s favorite memories is how she beat Brittney in Candy Land. It was a hard game for her, she had only played it once or twice and was still trying to figure out the rules of the game. She started the game off by getting to the shortcut that allows a player to skip several of the board spaces, making her closer to the end. Brittney was not so lucky, she kept getting stuck on the licorice spots and loosing a turn. Not even ten minutes later, Cindy won the game.
Having lunch twice a week became a bit difficult when Cindy had to move to a town called Silvas, which is next to East Moline. But being too far of a drive for Brittney, their school-based match transitioned into a community-based match.
“We moved into a community-based match, which gave us more freedom on when to meet. It gives me a better excuse bring out my inner-child and do things that I like to do with a Little that I just adore.”
This gave Cindy and Brittney the freedom to go out and see each other more than just during lunch. Besides mini golf, they both have enjoyed meals and fun times together. One of the more notable times is when they went out for pizza a couple weeks after the move.
They were having such a great time that they did not realize how close Brittney’s plate was to the edge of the table. Cindy made Brittney laugh from a joke and the plate when flying. The slice of pizza that was on it plopped down on Brittney’s newly bought white jeans. Both of them were frozen with what just happened. When they both made eye contact, tears swelled up in their eyes from laughing hysterically.
To this day both Brittney and Cindy have the greatest adventures together. From mini golf to board games to flying pizza, they always know how to have a fun time. The bond between them is unbeatable.
Brittney said, “I get caught up in the day-to-day with my job and being able to spend time with her brings joy into my life that I sometimes don’t think about. It’s just definetly enlightening to think that I am making some sort of impact on her.”