Lisa S. Lenkiewicz CTLatinoNews.com
Three years ago, Evelyn Rojas first became a Big Sister with Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters. When her first Little Sister moved out of state, she asked to be paired with another youth in need. This time, the match was perfect.
A native of El Salvador, Evelyn now lives in Hartford and works as an attorney at the Connecticut State’s Attorney Office, New Britain Judicial District. Her work days are long ones, but Evelyn feels she is blessed to have connected with her “Little.”
“Someone has always taken me under his or her wing and been a mentor to me,” explains Evelyn, who recalls she was guided as a youth after having emigrated to Maryland and then steered to Cornell University and UConn Law School. “I just felt I wanted to give back.”
In 2013, the youth mentoring organization in Connecticut matched Evelyn with a young Latina named Jubilee, then 15 years old. Jubilee– Jubbi for short– lives in Hartford with her mom Luz. She and Evelyn spend time going to the movies and dining out on Thai food–Jubbi’s favorite. Evelyn jokes she is encouraging her “Little” to try Indian food as well.
In a Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters press release, Jubbi says she trusts Evelyn and Evelyn reports she is gratified to see she is having a positive impact on Jubilee’s life.
“Jubbi’s been sheltered,” Evelyn tells CTLatinoNews. “I like to show her the world beyond Hartford.” As she experiences the areas outside of her Puerto Rican community in Hartford, Jubbi is now more comfortable and confident.
Evelyn and Jubbi see each other about two times a month. Last year, they spent even more time together as Evelyn helped Jubbi, a student at CREC’s Public Safety Academy in Enfield, with her homework. The typical commitment to being a Big Sister is one day a month.
Wendy Duran, match support coordinator at Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, recalls when she first met Jubbi, she was a “very shy, insecure Latina who just needed another caring adult to help boost her self-esteem, open her up to new horizons and take her to places she had never visited before.”
Evelyn did just that. She has nurtured Jubbi’s interest in the arts, taking her to concerts and dance performances. She has also developed a sense of Latina pride in Jubbi by taking her to Latino-themed events and serving as a role model as a successful and confident Latina professional.
Evelyn is committed to helping Jubbi find options for her future. In addition to encouraging her to further her education, Evelyn also accompanied her to the Connecticut Armory to be interviewed for a job with the National Guard.
In honor of her mentoring Jubbi and changing her life for the better, Evelyn recently received the Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters 2015 Victoria L. Soto Memorial Award at a recent awards event at the Mark Twain House & Museum. The award was created by the organization to honor the memory of Vicki Soto, the Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who died heroically while attempting to save the lives of her first grade students during the brutal shooting at the school. Soto had been a “Big Sister” in Nutmeg’s Windham School District site-based program during her four years as an undergraduate at Eastern Connecticut State University.
When Jubbi ages out of the program, Evelyn plans on remaining connected with her while getting matched with another Little Sister. Says Evelyn, “I have noticed I’ve made an impact on Jubilee, and I feel it is the least I can do to give back to the community.”