Originally Published: July 4, 2016 3 a.m.
Gema remembers clearly the first day she spent as Little Sister to Big Couple Bob and Deborah. She was only 4 when her mother requested a match– too young to officially start – but they met and Deborah recalls falling in love with Gema at the first sight of her big brown eyes and sweet smile. On Gema’s fifth birthday, they got together. She had some birthday money so they went to the mall. Hours later, Gema chose a cupcake-shaped container of fragrant bath products, then went home and told her mom, “I have to take a bath right now!”
That was 10 years ago and Gema has grown from a tiny girl whose feet were hanging off the car seat swinging to the music (Deborah’s description) to a lovely and poised soon-to-be high school sophomore. Their activities also have changed. They don’t camp at Page Springs like they used to. Instead they’re more likely to help others. Deborah and Gema were involved in preserving the many memorial items left at the Prescott Fire Department fence following the tragic death of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots three years ago.
Childless until Gema came into their lives, Bob and Deborah have played a huge part in her poise and self-confidence. They are a second family to Gema, who spends much of her time at their Prescott home, with her mother’s approval, of course. Both families share holidays and special occasions. Gema’s two older and two younger siblings all have been or are in successful matches, but this one is different.
“This is not your typical match,” Deborah says with a smile. “We didn’t plan that it would be this way.”
And Gema, who has been taking business classes, says she likes to help her Bigs with their small home-based business, copying, answering phones and in general, learning the process of running a company. Bob says Gema is “very into it,” while Deborah says Gema “may be our CEO someday.” Both are very proud of her business sense.
The teenager’s growing interest in cooking also is developing under the couple’s tutelage and they enjoy preparing and eating tasty meals together.
Deborah and Bob want everyone to know what Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters has meant to them over the past decade.
“I think the program over all is fabulous,” Deborah says. “What it does for the community and for people like us – we didn’t even know we had a hole that needed to be filled, and now Gema will be with us forever and ever.”
“It’s been a very rewarding relationship on both sides,” Bob says, adding, “We strongly encourage other people in the community to get a Little Brother or Sister.”
Being a Big usually involves a few hours a couple of times a month, but with the time and emotional investment up to the individuals, it’s possible to develop a relationship like Bob, Deborah and Gema. Anyone interested in becoming a Big can call 928-778-5135, or visit www.azbigs.org. Or, if you can’t be a Big, how about supporting a Big? The Arizona State Tax Credit is one way to do so. YBBBS always can use volunteer office help and has other ways people can be involved, as well.
Go ahead – pick up the phone and call today.