COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With the need for support for young people growing during the pandemic, Big Brothers Big Sisters is using the month of September to inspire others to make a difference.  

“I didn’t realize the impact and magnitude that Jackie would have on my life,” admits Kanisha Dumas, who says that the relationship between her and her big sister has been thriving for going on now 15 years. 

“She’s been a pivotal person who has helped me grow into the person that I am today,” says Dumas. 

The two met through Big Brothers Big Sisters when Dumas was 12 years old. 

Together the two have celebrated life’s ups together, like weddings and graduations, but they’ve also been each other’s support through the downs. 

“I also lost my brother. I was 16 and he was 14, and that was a very hard time that I’ve gone through in life. But Jackie was right beside me the whole time,” Dumas recalls. 

While being raised by her aunt, Jackie provided Dumas with an added layer of support that many kids lack. 

“We’re fostering growth, we’re creating safety zones where children, youth in our program not only hear messages that they’re seen, and they’re heard, but that we value them,” says Elizabeth Martinez, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. 

September marks National Big Brothers Big Sisters month. Friday’s “Go Green for Mentoring” is a call to anyone considering being a big brother or big sister. 

“At the end of the day, we all need a village in our corner and these relationships start at those connections that turn into lifetime relationships,” Martinez adds. 

“I thought, I have to do something, even if it’s something small. What can I personally do?” Malena Montoya describes, as she considered becoming part of an organization she had known about for years. 

Montoya joined the program in December as the need for mentors grew during the pandemic. 

“Our youth is our future, right? And if we can lend a hand to make them better, to give them more opportunities, that’s really all it is,” Montoya encourages. 

For Montoya, the decision isn’t a temporary pledge, but instead a lifetime commitment. 

“It’s exciting to see a youth and think about where they can go in the future and how you can be part of that,” says Montoya. 

For both her and Dumas, it’s a small investment for a big impact. 

“Be the change that you want to see in the world. While it may be scary, you have the power to ignite, to change the life of a young person,”  

Anyone interested in becoming a big brother or big sister can visit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio’s website at bbbscentralohio.org