BECAUSE OF THEM, I WILL
Remember when we spoke about advice and I briefly introduced you all to my angels? These women went above and beyond to teach me, mentor me, and uplift me out of poverty into the woman I am today.
There is Lisa, mom #2, she's saved my soul on numerous occasions. She has literally picked me up out of the dirt and delivered me to dreams I never thought were possible.
Susan, mom #3, she looked out for me the way no one else ever could. She saw I was broken and gave me pieces of herself to make me whole.
Mrs. O'Donnell was more than a high school teacher. She was a confidant. She listened to my struggles and helped alleviate the burden. She delivered me to the graduation stage.
Cindy shocked me. She peeled back my mask and saw me for who I really was. She taught me how to leave the mask at home and revealed a confidence within me that was worthy of national attention.
Krystle supported my dreams, no matter how far fetched. She was the first person who told me that my dreams were indeed possible. She gave me hope.
These are just a few of the strong woman who have influenced the woman I am today. There are many more. So, when I came back from my year abroad and sat down to think about what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I wanted to be just like these women. I wanted to motivate and inspire at risk youth to break through their struggles and reach for their dreams.
Upon taking my jump of faith into my purpose, I decided to realize this goal for my life by signing up to be a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sister Orange County. I logged on to their website and filled out a short application to attend an orientation. My hopes and dreams for the impact I could make as an OC Big were confirmed in orientation and so I filled out a volunteer application and asked Lisa, Susan, and my brother LeLand to be my references.
After reviewing my application and speaking with my boss and references, I was invited in for an interview where I sat and talked about myself for over an hour and a half. I said things like:
"I know what it's like, I want to make it so my little will never know "it""
"You know, I'm just looking for the Jay Z to my Beyonce"
"I foresee a starting basketball lineup worth of children in my future. Half of them birthed and the other half adopted"
The goal of the interview was to get to know me and who I was to not only see if I would be a good fit as a Big but to also gather as much information as possible to match me with a little.
Two weeks later I received my acceptance letter. I went for my new big orientation and awaited the call for a possible match. Less than a week later, I received a call from my match support specialist describing a little girl who was brilliantly creative, passionate about her life, family, and people and suffering from daddy issues. My match specialist basically described me. I was already sold.
A couple of days later, exactly one year ago tomorrow, this happend:
Look at that face. Isn't it adorable? I introduce you to my little sister Aaliyah! She is the smartest 10 year old I know. She's wicked brave, crazy creative, and the sweetest kid you'll ever meet. I knew she was the perfect match for me as soon as my match specialist called me and told me about her. I didn't even need to meet her. But when I did, she blew my mind. I knew that she would be my little sister forever.
We first hung out on Saturday May 27, 2017. I took her to my favorite place in America, Inspiration Point in Newport Beach, and we ate frozen yogurt and frolicked in the water. Afterwards, we went to John's Incredible Pizza. I was terrified about whether or not she would open up to me right away. I had been warned during orientation that there may be some resistance. But Aaliyah opened up to me right away. She chatted about school, her friends, her loving family, her favorite things to do. We fell into a familiar pattern almost immediately.
Our first Summer together proved difficult after my series of accidents. It was during this time that I fell in love with Aaliyah's mom. I had reached a point where I hadn't hung out with Aaliyah in over a month. I was so ashamed as I felt I had let her down and told her mom that it might be best to find another match for her. Aaliyah's mom literally said she would have none of that. I was Aaliyah's big sister, God had brought us together, and God would fix my life so that we could stay together. When you see this Candace, I want you to know how much that meant to me. Hanging out with Aaliyah during the aftermath of my accidents really helped keep me motivated and kept my spirits high.
Aaliyah and I hang out at least twice a month, which is the requirement, but I try my best to hang out with her as much as I can. We've been on countless adventures together to the aquarium, the beach, to Disneyland, and even golfing. We attend almost every single Big Brother Big Sister event. She amazes me at each one. When we went golfing she won a putting competition on her first try. When we went zip lining she jumped with no fear ( and left me hanging). When we went rock climbing, she climb all the way to the top of the wall on her first try. When she couldn't find a place to put her foot, she used her knee. We've built award winning sandcastles together, eaten a lot of pizza together, and have had a lot of laughs.
She's so young. So my only goals for her right now are to build memories and have new adventures. I also want to work on our relationship and make sure she knows without a doubt that I will always be here for her. In the future, I look forward to taking her shopping for clothes and colleges, seeing her off to prom, watching Game of Thrones with her and more.
Queens, I want you to think about your impact on this world. How do you give back? Are you helping build our community? Week after week we are introduced to a new familiar tragedy in our world. Volunteering your time, money, or resources is a lot more helpful than sending thoughts and prayers. How do you plan to leave the world better than when you entered it?
Our purpose is most definitely inline with giving back to our community. Have you jumped into that part of your life yet? It's so important that we think about the footprints we are leaving behind on this world. Nothing will change until we are all working together to create change. I encourage you to take action today. Volunteer at church, give to a local charity, become a mentor. Do what you can to create positive long lasting change in the world. I can tell you right now, that my life would have definitely gone to shit, if it weren't for my angels. Because of them I am writing these words today. Because of them, Aaliyah has gained an angel. Because of you, someone else's life can be positively impacted. Take a look at your life and decide how you can give back. Follow that decision up with action. I promise you you wont regret the decision to lend a helping hand. You can do more than you think.
This week Aaliyah and I will be celebrating our one year match anniversary. Take a look back on some of our favorite moments over the past 12 months below!
It's a beautiful day to conquer the world. So, go forth and slay!!!
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 21, 2018