Dorothy and Samanda

A good mentor doesn’t have to be perfect. But tiny Dorothy McFadden-Parker is about as close as you can get. Even so, she’ll be the first to tell you how she looks forward to activities with her Little Sis every bit as much as Samanda does.

“I knew from the moment I met her that we were meant to be together,” says Miss Dorothy (as she is known). “My grandbabies are all up in Chicago, so I needed to find one here too!”

She is part of a growing population of Baby Boomer-plus volunteers making a difference in Central Illinois. After retiring from the accounting department at ADM, she found more free time on her hands. When she began substituting in the Decatur Public Schools she saw first-hand the need for caring adults in the lives of at-risk students.

Already an active member of her church and neighborhood organizations, Dorothy wanted to do something with a more individual focus. She first saw the impact of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program many years ago, when a relative’s son needed a mentor. Remembering this, she picked up the phone.

Over the 3 ½ years since then, she and her Little Sis have been inseparable. They hit the movies, participate in agency events, go out to eat, and generally live it up. When her grandkids visit from Chicago they look forward to seeing Samanda, too. The 3rd-grader has a long way to go until graduation, but trusts her Big Sis to be there every step of the way. 

Volunteers come in all shapes, sizes and age groups. All that’s necessary is a commitment to be consistent as a positive presence in a young life. You don’t have to be as perfect as Miss Dorothy. You just have to be perfectly willing to BE THERE for your Little Brother or Sister.